Canadian Biomass Magazine

Alberta discontinues bioenergy program

March 25, 2013
By Edmonton Journal

March 25, 2013, Edmonton, AB — The discontinuation of a $500-million Alberta bioenergy program has raised questions about its role in furthering the province’s climate change agenda with industry bemoaning its loss and critics calling it a colossal waste of money.

The program, which attracted criticism from the auditor general in 2012, will cost Alberta nearly $100 million this year and another $230 million over the next two, despite the March 7 budget decision to close the program to new applicants.

Alberta Energy spokesman Mike Feenstra told the Edmonton Journal that the government saved $63 million by not extending the program. However, the costs will continue to ramp up over the next three years because the credit is linked to volumes of production — and as volumes increase, so does the grant.

The $98 million this year covers 31 grants approved in rounds one and two of the program, Feenstra said. Bioenergy producers will receive credits on their production of liquid biofuels, electricity from biomass or heat from biomass.

There are four biodiesel facilities and three ethanol plants now either operating or under construction in the province, Feenstra said.

The program was first established in 2006 in support of standards that require five per cent of gasoline and two per cent of diesel to be comprised of renewable fuels. Alberta expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by one million tonnes annually — the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from provincial roads.

Another component of the program involves producing electricity from wood chips and manure.

Canadian Renewable Fuels Association president W. Scott Thurlow encouraged all levels of governments to take advantage of the “proven environmental and climate benefits of biofuels.”

Although the Alberta program has been discontinued, he said the association is pleased the province is honouring its existing commitments for companies already participating in it.

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