Study confirms Canadian renewable fuels significantly reduce GHG emissions

By Erin Voegele | November 11, 2009
Report posted Dec. 1, 2009, at 2:45 p.m. CST

An analysis of Canada's biofuels industry recently conducted by Cheminfo Services Inc. confirms that Canadian ethanol and biodiesel significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The study, which was funded by the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, was conducted using the most recent version of the Natural Resources Canada GHGenius lifecycle assessment model for transportation fuels.

To complete the study, titled "Life Cycle Assessment of Renewable Fuel Production from Canadian Biofuel Plants for 2008-2009," Cheminfo analyzed the changes in lifecycle GHG emissions that can be attributed to the production of biofuels by the Canadian renewable fuel industry. Data used in the study was based data recently gathered by the CRFA through a survey of Canadian biofuels plants, including data that was gathered on each facility's:
  • - Fuel production in liters

  • - Feed charged in tons

  • - Electric power consumption in kilowatt hours

  • - Natural gas consumption in gigajoules, and

  • - Other fuel energy inputs

  • According to the results of the study, the reduction in fuelcycle GHG emissions from 1 megajoule (MJ) of ethanol - when used in an E10 blend - is 62 percent of the fuelcycle GHG emissions for 1 MJ of gasoline. The study also shows that the reported production of 741 million liters (196 million gallons) of biofuels in Canada from April 2008 through March 2009 resulted in a reduction of 1.1 million tons of lifecycle GHG emissions when compared to conventional fuels.

    According to Cheminfo's study, the CRFA's input factors for corn ethanol showed that the reported power usage rate was approximately 10 percent lower than the default levels calculated for 2009 corn ethanol production in GHGenius, while the average reported natural gas usage rate was approximately 2 percent higher than the 2009 GHGenius default levels for corn ethanol. Alternatively, the reported data for wheat ethanol was higher than expected. The average reported power usage rage was significantly higher than the GHG default levels calculated for 2009 wheat production. The average reported natural gas usage of wheat facilities was also higher than the GHGensius default levels.

    "This study confirms that homegrown ethanol and biodiesel deliver real and substantial greenhouse gas reductions," said CRFA President Gordon Quaiattini. "This is good news for the environment, this is also good news for farmers and the economy, and good news for Canadian drivers.