Feds back Suncor ethanol plant expansion

The federal government will put up $25 million for Suncor Energy’s planned expansion of its corn ethanol plant near Sarnia, Ont.

The expansion of the Calgary company’s St. Clair plant, which it announced last month, is expected to double its current capacity to 400 million litres of ethanol per year.

The facility expansion, which is expected to be complete in September 2009, has also received equity investment from farmers totaling $12.5 million, the government said in its release Friday. Suncor has said the expansion will cost $120 million.

Along with ethanol, which Suncor has been blending ethanol into its Sunoco gasolines since 1996, and producing at St. Clair since 2006, the plant will produce dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS) for livestock feed as well as carbon dioxide, used to freeze foods, produce carbonated beverages and fill fire extinguishers.

“This investment will create new jobs in Lambton County and St. Clair Township while also giving Canadian families a green alternative at the gas pump,” said Guy Lauzon, federal parliamentary secretary for agriculture, in the government’s release.

Suncor’s St. Clair facility is already the largest fuel ethanol plant in Canada at 200 million litres of annual production capacity.

The federal funding for the project will flow through its $200 million, four-year ecoABC initiative, which offers conditionally repayable contributions to build or expand transportation biofuel production facilities. Farmer investment in the projects and the use of farm feedstock to produce biofuel are among the conditions for ecoABC funding.

Other ecoABC-funded projects so far include IGPC Ethanol at Aylmer, Ont., North West Terminal at Unity, Sask., and Western Biodiesel at Aldersyde, Alta.

Suncor’s other renewable energy projects include wind farm operations in Saskatchewan, Ontario and Alberta. It also explores for and produces natural gas in Western Canada and extracts and upgrades oil sands at Fort McMurray, Alta.

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