Calgary Biofuel Energy
Alberta’s electricity system is supported by one ethanol- and one biodiesel-producing facility that produce a combined output of 59 million litres per year. Alberta has a wide range of feedstock available for biofuel generation, from forestry residuals to agricultural products and by-products, to waste generated in cities and towns.
Currently, almost all of Alberta’s 193 MW of biomass-fired electricity capacity is fuelled by wood waste from the province’s forestry industry. The use of cellulosic biomass (such as ethanol) for bio-energy at industrial scale has the potential to add 10 – 15 per cent incremental contribution to the energy resources of Alberta. There are approximately seven million bone-dry tonnes of forest biomass and 15 million bone-dry tonnes of agricultural biomass produced per year in Alberta.
Growth in Alberta’s renewable fuels is supported by the provincial Renewable Fuels Standard that requires five per cent renewable alcohol in gasoline and two per cent renewable diesel in diesel fuel. It is further supported by the Bioenergy Producer Credit Program, which seeks to increase investment in second-generation ethanol using feedstocks like forestry, agricultural and municipal waste.
There are currently two renewable fuel plants in operation in Alberta and three under construction. Combined, these five plants will increase biodiesel and biofuel production from 59 million litres per year to 386 million litres per year.
There are many opportunities for innovation in biofuel and biomass production. Calgary-based Expander Energy is pioneering in the creation of the first enhanced gas to liquids refinery from multiple feedstocks, including natural gas or high carbon content waste materials such as biomass or municipal solid waste. The company has completed its preliminary engineering design study for the refinery, and Expander Energy’s website provides more information on the project, along with other innovations the company has developed.
Calgary and Alberta’s strong forestry and agriculture industries will continue to allow for growth in production and innovation of biofuels, biomass and renewable fuels.