Canada ethanol firms urge continuing government role in biofuels

16 February 2010 20:54  [Source: ICIS news]

ORLANDO, Florida (ICIS news)--Public policy will remain a necessary part of the structure of the North American biofuels industry even as so-called second generation technologies become commercially viable, representatives of three Canadian ethanol firms said on Tuesday.

But the absence of a tangible means of enforcing government goals for biofuels could be one area in which governments could get tougher with the industry, said Jeff Passmore, executive vice president for public affairs at Ottawa-based Iogen.

"We have to ask ourselves whether there should be some mechanism" to force the industry to meet the goals being set, Passmore said during a panel discussion at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Florida.

But Passmore acknowledged the difficulty of placing an onus on ethanol firms to meet targets based on technologies that do not even exist yet.

Marie-Helene Labrie, vice-president of government affairs at Montreal-based Enerkem, cited the challenge of financing for second-generation ethanol plants as one of the key reasons for the continued role of government in the industry.

In Canada, Enerkem has received public financial support from Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Quebec, Alberta Energy Research Institute and the City of Edmonton.

Edmonton and Alberta provincial agencies have contributed Canadian dollars (C$) $20m ($19m) to the construction of a cellulosic ethanol plant based on municipal waste that is being built by Enerkem in partnership with Toronto-based GreenField Ethanol, Canada's biggest biofuels producer.

Enerkem has also been helped by US taxpayers, including $50m from the Department of Energy to help with the construction of a waste-to-biofuels facility in Pontotoc, Mississippi.

The National Ethanol Conference is sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).

($1 = C$ 1.05)

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By: Stephen Burns
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