Suncor to boost Ont. ethanol plant capacity

Suncor Energy has announced it will spend $120 million to double the capacity of its St. Clair corn ethanol plant near Sarnia, Ont.

The facility has been operating since July 2006 and is now the largest ethanol plant in Canada, with capacity of 200 million litres per year, the company said in a release Thursday.

Construction is to begin “immediately” toward completion in late 2009, the company said. The expanded plant is expected to add 20 new full-time jobs at the facility.

“With expansion, life cycle (carbon dioxide) offsets are expected to rise to 600,000 tonnes per year — the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road,” the company said in its release.

The plant’s capacity when opened in 2006 called for up to 20 million bushels of corn feedstock per year, which it said at the time would be sourced “primarily from Ontario farmers.”

In its release Thursday, Suncor said it’s also in the planning stages of building a commercial demonstration facility to develop cellulosic ethanol in Colorado, with other partners. That facility is expected to convert wood residues into ethanol and other products.

The Calgary company’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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