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Government proposes increased use of renewable fuels in Québec, Canada

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The Government of Québec in Canada has released a draft regulation that requires the increased use of renewable fuels in the province.

The new renewable fuels standard, which has been applauded by industry association Advanced Biofuels Canada (ABFC), proposes a market-based mechanism to incentivise low-carbon biofuels.

Ethanol in gasoline has been set at a minimum of 10% by 2021, rising to 15% by 2025 (annual average). If the ethanol has 10% cellulosic content, the 2021 and 2025 ethanol requirements are 9% and 13.5% respectively.

Bio-based diesel fuel is to be 2% by 2021, rising to 4% by 2025 in the diesel pool in the province. In terms of feedstocks for the biofuel, the government has suggested that cellulosic ethanol can be derived from a range of municipal, industrial, agricultural and forestry feedstock; bio-based diesel can be biodiesel or any other renewable fuel suitable for use in high-speed diesel engines.

Titled the ‘Regulation respecting the minimum volume of renewable fuel in gasoline and diesel fuel’, the new standard is expected to double the use of ethanol in Québec – from 470 million litres in 2017 – and significantly expand the renewable fuel content in diesel fuel, which was negligible in 2017.

“With this proposal, Québec continues to address its largest single greenhouse gas emissions source: transportation, at 41%,” commented Ian Thomson, president of ABFC. “It also continues the transition to a circular bioeconomy by using Québec's sustainable agricultural crops, agricultural and forestry residues, as well as urban and industrial waste streams.

“The wholesale pre-tax cost to Québec residents for fossil fuels was $9 billion [€6.1 billion] in 2018; most of that spending left the province. With this regulation, Québec can reduce its exposure to volatile global energy markets with greater use of abundant domestic renewable feedstocks and low carbon, made-in- Québec clean fuels.”

According to the ABFC, advanced biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 115% compared with fossil fuels.

Thomson added: “Québec’s announcement is also notable as a further example of the growing trend to more direct provincial action on climate change and energy security. Canada’s diverse natural resource and transportation profiles require regionally appropriate energy and climate policies best suited to local economic development and clean growth jobs.”