President, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association
Today, Canada’s transportation sector accounts for nearly one-third of our country’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Every car ride, bus commute and airplane trip adds carbon dioxide to the environment, making it increasingly difficult to meet our world-class emissions reductions targets.
Thankfully, our renewable fuels industry is working to make transportation fuels cleaner, which means less harmful GHG emissions and cleaner air. Ethanol is a practical alternative energy source that can be used in vehicles right now, and which not only lowers GHG emissions, but helps to reduce smog.
If Canadians are going to succeed in combating climate change, we’re going to have to deal head-on with transportation fuels that generate large GHG emissions from our gas-fuelled cars, trucks and other vehicles. Ethanol is the only practical, immediately available means of lowering this impact.
If Canadians are going to succeed in combating climate change, we’re going to have to deal head-on with transportation fuels that generate large GHG emissions from our gas-fuelled cars, trucks and other vehicles.
Canada’s natural advantage
In Canada, we’re fortunate to have vast energy reserves to share with the world. In addition to some petroleum based natural resources, we have a wealth of biomass and cropland from which energy crops can sprout. Ethanol comes from a variety of these land-based sources. And when it comes to renewable fuels, Canada has more land and available biomass per capita than almost any other country on earth.
“Ethanol is a clear example of how we can use our existing fuel infrastructure to make real, meaningful reductions to GHG emissions,” explained Scott Thurlow, President of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association. “Depending on the feed stock, ethanol can reduce emissions by up to 62 percent compared to traditional fossil fuels. When we look at advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol, these environmental benefits increase even more.”
“We have created 14,000 direct and indirect jobs through the construction and operation of these plants. Canada really does have clean energy super power potential.”
Meeting our environmental goals
Achieving the government’s ambitious goals for GHG emission reductions in the transportation sector requires both clean technology and cleaner fuels.
“We are adapting our fueling infrastructure so as to keep pace with clean technologies,” said Thurlow.
“Regulations have established progressively more stringent GHG emission standards for Canadian vehicles starting in 2017. Meeting these regulations will require higher-octane fuels to power lighter engines. There is no better, cleaner source of high octane fuel than ethanol.”
"Canada has the potential to be a world leader in biofuel production—a huge exporter of the clean energy that will power the world in the years to come."
Government investments in renewable fuels continue to deliver economic and environmental benefits across Canada. Without question, the platform built by Canada’s traditional ethanol producers is at the forefront of driving innovation in the ways that we make our fuels. Cellulosic ethanol can be developed from many feedstocks or municipal solid waste, and reduces GHG emissions by up to 87 percent compared to petroleum. By design, cellulosic ethanol solves multiple environmental problems at once.
“Right now we’re focused on the starch of the corn, but the cellulosic process will allow us to get into the cob, the stover and all of the waste so that we can maximize the value of our crops and our current plants,” explained Thurlow. “These feed stocks have an even better GHG profile in the long run.”
Canada’s ethanol technology is poised to develop first-of-kind technology that is able to produce fuels and value-added agricultural and chemical products, from a growing range of biomass. The continued expansion of existing grain ethanol plants into biorefineries will help ensure Canada’s economic and environmental well-being for generations to come.
A jobs and growth engine
With its abundance of biomass, natural resources and cropland, Canada has the potential to be a world leader in biofuel production—a huge exporter of the clean energy that will power the world in the years to come.
“The 26 renewable fuel plants that are operating in Canada right now add $3 billion into the economy,” said Thurlow. “We have created 14,000 direct and indirect jobs through the construction and operation of these plants. Canada really does have clean energy superpower potential.”
The technology is in place, the desire and expertise is there; all that’s needed now is a policy environment that will help the production and use of domestic biofuels. This will continue to expand and push Canada onto the next level and help it become a true clean energy superpower.
“We, as an industry, are continuing to improve the processes by which we make our products and at the very same time we are complementing the oil and gas sector on how they integrate our products into their fuel mix,” said Thurlow.
As we strive to meet our energy and climate demands in the years ahead, the economic and environmental benefits of biofuels—for consumers, our country, and ultimately our planet—will become more important than ever. Expanded use of biofuels remains the single best policy tool to achieve both the economic advantages we seek and the environmental benefits we need.