By Lynn L. Bergeson
On October 31, 2018, the Canadian National Energy Board released its 2018 report on energy supply and demand projections to 2040: “Canada’s Energy Future 2018: An Energy Market Assessment.” Based on a set of assumptions about technology, energy, climate, human behaviors, and the structure of the economy, the assessment identifies five key findings as follows:
- Canada’s energy demand growth is slowing, while the sources to meet these demands are becoming less carbon intensive;
- With greater adoption of new energy technologies, Canadians use over 15 percent less total energy and 30 percent less fossil fuels by 2040;
- Energy use and economic growth continue to decouple;
- Canada’s energy mix continues to become more diverse, adding more renewables; and
- Canadian oil and natural gas production increases, with price and technology changes influencing production in the future.
The report predicts that energy generation from renewable sources will increase in 2040 to represent 12 percent of all electricity generation. It concludes, that given the higher demand in reducing carbon emissions and the increase in biofuel blending rates, the costs of renewables will likely drop.
By Lauren M. Graham, Ph.D.
Renewable Industries Canada (RICanada), a principal stakeholder representing Canadian producers of clean-burning renewable fuels, announced that the Quebec Government’s 2017-2020 Action Plan under the 2030 Energy Policy included, for the first time, renewable fuel volume requirements for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The renewable fuel blending requirement was set at 5% for gasoline and 2% diesel and is expected to increase after 2020. RICanada stated that the “announcement on renewable transportation fuels further entrenches Quebec’s position as a leader in the production of renewable energy and in the broader battle against climate change” and that its “members look forward to helping the Government of Quebec ensure that the province’s GHG targets in the transportation sector are achieved.” More information on the Action Plan for Energy Policy 2030 is available on the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources website.
On February 4, 2017, the Canadian Department of the Environment and the Department of Health published in the Canada Gazette the draft screening assessment of the commercially relevant fungus, Trichoderma reesei, stating that the organism is nontoxic and does not require regulatory action under Section 77 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). Following a screening assessment, Trichoderma reesei , which is used to convert biomass to biofuels and sugars and to produce food and health products, was found to not meet the criteria set out in CEPA Section 64 since the amount entering the environment does not pose a risk to human health. Options are being considered, however, for follow-up activities to track changes in the commercial use of and exposure to Trichoderma reesei . Comments on the draft assessment and the related scientific considerations are due by April 5, 2017.
On October 4, 2016, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission (EFC) published a report, Course Correction: It’s Time to Rethink Canadian Biofuel Policies, arguing for the termination of biofuel subsidies. The report claims that Canadian biofuel policies have reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions an average of three million tonnes annually, accounting for less than 0.5 percent of Canada’s total GHG emissions. Annual costs of the biofuel policies were estimated to be C$640 million, resulting in an estimated average per-tonne cost of GHG emission reduction ranging between C$128 and C$185. The report then argues for increased carbon pricing policies over the production subsidies and biofuel mandates that are currently in place as a more cost effective strategy for reducing GHG emissions.
Renewable Industries Canada (RIC) has spoken out against the report, calling the study “skewed, flawed, and unacceptable,” as it ignores independent biofuel cost benefit analyses as well as current government data (data used in the study was from a report published in 2010). RIC claims that biofuel mandates have returned over C$5 billion to the Canadian economy, created 14,000 jobs since 2007, and provided a C$3.7 billion net return on government investments. RIC does support carbon pricing policies, but argues that the best approach to reducing GHG emissions is a holistic approach that includes a variety of policies, incorporating carbon pricing as well as biofuel mandates.
On July 25, 2016, the the Honorable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development and the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario announced a $12 million investment in Bioindustrial Innovation Canada. The Centre for the Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovations will be supported through the funding, and will help businesses quickly bring biobased products from final testing stages to the commercial market. This funding will specifically benefit the Sarnia-Lambton region, and create 478 full-time equivalent jobs as well as 250 new industrial collaborations in an effort to transition the region from a petrobased economy to a biobased economy.
Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) is inviting applications
for its third Exemplar Program project competition for industry-led
collaborative research projects
using innovative applications in biotechnology. IBioIC is requesting
applications from projects with a total value of up to £250,000 that
demonstrate a defined market need and commercial opportunity. Deadline for
applications is March
On February, 19, 2014, it was announced that BioAmber Sarnia, Inc. (BioAmber Sarnia) has received a $10 million loan from the Government of Canada to help the company build the largest commercial plant that will produce biobased succinic acid. Funding is being provided under the Canadian Government's AgriInnovation Program, which is an initiative designed to accelerate the pace of innovation by supporting research and development activities in agri-innovations. The BioAmber Sarnia project is expected to create 60 direct and 155 indirect jobs, and help corn farmers by requiring in the first year of production 1.5 million bushels of corn and in future years three million bushels per year. Succinic acid is used to produce a wide range of products, including paints, plastics, resins, and pharmaceuticals. A copy of BioAmber's news release on the announcement is available online.