Saskatchewan plans to develop ethanol industry

Province releases Greenprint for Ethanol Production
By | April 01, 2002
With an aggressive and targeted plan of action soon to be finalized, The province of Saskatchewan, Canada could increase its ethanol production capacity nearly 10-fold over the next five years. The Saskatchewan government has unveiled a plan to develop an ethanol industry that could eventually raise production to 400 million liters per year (about 100 mmgy).

A report released by government officials March 21, entitled "The Greenprint for Ethanol Production in Saskatchewan," outlines several key actions the government intends to take to create an environment for private sector development of an ethanol industry in the province.

These actions include: (1.) eliminating the provincial fuel tax on ethanol produced and consumed in Saskatchewan by way of a rebate, (2.) permitting the mandating of ethanol -blended fuel (10 percent) to be sold in the province, (3.) working with the federal and provincial governments to remove barriers on ethanol exports, (4.) seeking an ethanol mandate nationwide, (5.) encouraging the building of ethanol plants in Saskatchewan, and (6.) working with wholesalers and retailers to develop a market for ethanol-blended fuel in the province.

What the plan means to the ethanol industry
Foremost, a vibrant ethanol industry in Saskatchewan will create meaningful job opportunities, primarily for the province's rural residents, and new marketing opportunities for Saskatchewan's grain producers (and possibly its wood-product companies as well).

According to Saskatchewan Minister of Economic Development and Resources Eldon Lautermilch, the private sector will play a leading role in defining what the ethanol industry will look like and how it will operate.

"The industry will be private sector driven," Lautermilch told Ethanol Producer Magazine. "I anticipate many opportunities for financial investments, and the growth of entrepreneurial, managerial and marketing expertise. The creation of construction and operating jobs will follow as future ethanol plants and their related facilities - such as cattle feedlots - are built and operated in Saskatchewan."

Lautermilch said the growth of the ethanol industry in the province depends largely on the domestic market, both in Canada and in the United States. He said it is likely that at least two 80 million liter per year ethanol plants will be built in Saskatchewan within two years. Other government officials indicated that as much as 400 million liters per year might eventually be produced, depending on export markets.

Wheat and other cereal grains would be used as the primary ethanol feedstocks, Lautermilch said.

Building already?
According to sources in Saskatchewan, only a few days after the government announced its plans to support an ethanol industry, NESask group announced plans to develop a 100 million liter plant. The firm's plans had been underway for some time and apparently solidified after the government's announcement. The group reportedly said it could be several months before plans are finalized and a definite decision can be made to proceed.

Currently, there is only one ethanol plant in Saskatchewan, Pound Maker Ag Ventures in Lanigan, Sask., produces about 14 million liters per year from wheat. The plant is partnered with a cattle feedlot. Ethanol Producer Magazine was unable to confirm whether or not the plant will expand its production capacity.

Of the six existing ethanol plants in Canada, all except a plant in Quebec produce ethanol from corn or wheat. Like U.S. plants, these facilities rely heavily on revenue from coproducts to be profitable. Commercial Alcohol Inc, in Ontario, is Canada's largest plant. n