Advanced biofuels have significant (>50%) greenhouse gas emission reductions below gasoline and diesel and are made from renewable biomass.
The ‘advanced biofuel’ category in the regulations of the world’s largest biofuels market (US) includes biodiesel, hydrogenation-derived renewable diesel, and advanced/cellulosic ethanol.
Advanced biofuels are blended into fossil fuels at varying blend levels depending on temperature, engine standards, carbon intensity, and cost. Bio-based crude oil substitutes (‘biocrude’) and bio-based hydrogen are used in conventional refineries to reduce emissions. Both of these biofuels use existing refining assets to produce gasoline and diesel with lower carbon intensities than conventional fuels. Biofuels are also being commercially produced using industrial flue gases.
Years of advanced biofuels use in Canada have proven them to be fully operable across the range of Canadian climatic conditions and end user needs.
Canadian biofuel producers and marketers work within an integrated North America market.
Biofuels and Carbon Reductions
Biofuels are made from primarily renewable feedstocks. Plant-based biofuel feedstocks absorb carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, and release their plant-based carbon back into the atmosphere to repeat the cycle. Lifecycle analyses include all inputs to biofuels production process, including fossil inputs and resources used to produce and transport feedstocks, and deliver finished fuels to market. Biofuels produced from the residues of other processes (e.g., rendering, agricultural residues) can have negative carbon emissions.
Fossil fuels are the leading source of human-made greenhouse gases (GHGs.) Their production takes carbon that has been stored underground through long-term geologic processes and releases it to the atmosphere. Canadian crude oils have generally become ‘heavier’ over time, making them more difficult to transport and more energy-intensive to refine, resulting in higher fossil fuel carbon footprints.
Biodiesel made in Canada reduces emissions between 80% and 117% below those of fossil diesel, depending upon feedstocks and production processes. Advanced ethanol (cellulosic and waste-derived) reduces GHG emissions between 60% and 100%. Bio-based refinery inputs also contribute to carbon reductions on a basis proportionate to their inclusion rates.
Canadian-produced biofuels are made from grains, oilseeds, rendered by-products, forest residues, and processed municipal solid waste. Canadian crops have been demonstrated to be responsible under a number of international sustainability programs that assess social, environmental and economic impacts.
High-Carbon Biofuel Feedstocks — Biodiesel and renewable hydrocarbon diesel (RHD) are produced in a number of countries with palm oil and palm oil by-products. Biofuels made from palm oil products are generally not eligible for RFS2 compliance in the United States, and are restricted in other jurisdictions based on their relatively high Carbon Intensity, land use change and biodiversity impacts.
ABFC promotes responsible use of agricultural and land resources for biofuel production. The use of a small portion of Canada’s agricultural land base for production of low carbon intensity biofuel is helping to establish favorable conditions for other advanced biofuels. Our support for renewable and low carbon fuel regulations in Canada is premised on the availability of sustainable feedstocks that offer significant improvements over the current environmental costs of fossil fuel extraction, refining, and use in Canada.
For every dollar spent operating an advanced biofuel plant in Canada – for feedstocks, processing and transportation – an additional dollar of economic activity is created in the regional economy.
Market diversification for feedstock producers is another benefit of domestic production and use of advanced biofuels. For instance, more than 85 per cent of Canadian canola growers’ annual production now goes for export as seed, oil or meal. Additionally, non-tariff trade barriers can create demand volatility that hurts the farm sector and leaves it vulnerable.
Chronic diesel shortages in western Canada each spring and summer have resulted from demand outpacing supply; a problem predicted to challenge access to diesel in the near to medium term if unanticipated supply disruptions occur. Western Canada imports 40,000 barrels a day of diesel fuel; western biodiesel production capacity of over 5,600 barrels a day can diversity and expand fuel supplies.