What's happening with biodiesel?

By 2012, according to a Government of Canada mandate, all diesel fuel used in Canada must contain at least 2 per cent renewable biodiesel

To meet that target, says Gordon Quaiattini, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, Canada needs to boost its current biodiesel production from 120 million litres to between 500 to 600 million litres a year.

Can we do it? Quaiattini believes the answer is yes, and that this is good news for canola growers.

Biodiesel, like ethanol, can be manufactured from more than one feedstock, but canola is the primary one for the Canadian industry — mainly because we grow a lot of it. “As yields continue to grow, we want to ensure that multiple markets and value-added opportunities are available for growers,” says Quaiattini. “We have more than enough capacity to serve both food and fuel markets, and we have to do both in order for farmers to continue to get good returns.”

Four biodiesel plants under construction now in Western Canada, and another in Ontario, will have a combined annual capacity of 327 million litres when they come on stream. “We would have liked to have more capacity on line sooner, but we'll be close to the 2 per cent target by 2012,” says Quaiattini.

But as far as he's concerned, that's just the beginning. “The International Energy Agency has projected a 50 per cent increase in global energy demand by 2030,” he says. It all adds up to significant future demand that Canada is positioned to meet. “The commitment to grow the industry is there,” says Quaiattini. “We have the right policy mix and the right program mix to make sure it happens.”