Glacier FarmMedia COVID-19 & the Farm

Ethanol capacity soon to hit billion-litre mark

(Resource News International) — Production capacity in the Canadian ethanol industry is expected to hit one billion litres per year by the middle of this month, with yet another ethanol plant expected to be fully operational shortly.

Total 2008 ethanol production capacity, which Canada is expected to realize in the next week or two, will sit at one billion litres per year, said Robin Speer, vice-president of public affairs for the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) in Ottawa.

Total ethanol production for 2008 is forecast slightly
below the billion-litre mark at 900 million litres per year as the industry will only be running at full capacity for the last six months of 2008, he said.
That compares to total 2007 ethanol production of 700 million litres per year.

Based on current conditions, Speer expects production
capacity to expand to 1.3 or 1.4 billion litres per year by 2009.

Terra Grain Fuels at Belle Plaine, Sask. (east of Moose Jaw), with a yearly production potential of 150 million litres, will be the next plant to begin operating at full at capacity, bringing the number of completed and operational ethanol facilities in Canada to 11, according to the CRFA. Five more facilities are currently under construction.

Information provided by the CRFA says 489 million litres of the ethanol produced in Canada in 2008 will be wheat-based while 496 million litres will be corn-based.

According to Speer, the amount of Canadian feed wheat expected to be used in 2008 for ethanol production will equal less than four per cent of Canada’s total 2008-09 wheat (excluding durum) production, which was pegged at 19.8 million tonnes by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on May 27.

The amount of corn needed in 2008 as a percentage of total Canadian corn production will be higher, Speer said.

The four operational corn-based facilities will produce 496 million litres of ethanol. At a ration of 1:10, where one bushel of corn produces 10 litres of ethnal, 49.6 million bushels will be required, or roughly 12 per cent of total Canadian 2008-09 corn production.

Biodiesel production, meanwhile, will be relatively small in Canada in 2008.

“Biodiesel production was a little under 100 million litres last year and it should be about 100 million litres in 2008,” Speer said. “There are no new large-scale plants that will come on line in 2008, but we just saw a bunch come on line 2006 and 2007.”

The majority of biodiesel currently produced in Canada is made using rendered animal fats, tallow, yellow grease, recycled vegetable oils and other similar materials. However, Speer expected to see more canola oil used as additional facilities come on line.

“Canadian Bioenergy is building a large facility in Sturgeon (County, near Edmonton), that will use canola oil. Then there is Milligan BioTech in Foam Lake, Sask. (about 240 km east of Saskatoon). They’ve had a small canola-based facility for a few years,” he said. One litre of canola oil is required to make one litre of biodiesel.

“There is great potential for canola-based biodiesel is due to acreage, production and yield increases. In the futures, we’re going to see a lot of biodiesel on the Prairies.”

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