What is Bioenergy

Bioenergy is any renewable energy or fuel derived from biological sources. There are several potential feedstocks for bioenergy in Alberta including agricultural products (such as corn or canola), forestry waste and livestock waste.

The Nine-Point Bio-Energy Planexternal link icon (2006) encouraged investment in Alberta’s bioenergy market to create a long-term, sustainable industry.

Alberta’s 2010 Renewable Fuels Standardexternal link icon (RFS) requires commercial fuel producers to blend renewable products into their fuels, the program along with forms and reportsexternal link icon is available on the Environment and Parks website.

In the fall of 2016 the government announcedexternal link icon a Bioenergy Producer Programexternal link icon to allow producers to transition from the bioenergy programs that were in place from 2006 until 2016. Four bioenergy success stories are featured in this site, two using forestry waste AL-Pac and West Fraser mills, the Enerkem waste-to-biofuels facility and Lethbridge Biogas.   

Ethanol

Fuel ethanol is a form of alcohol, fermented and distilled from a wide range of plant life such as wheat, corn or canola. Through a process called hydrolysis of grain starch, starches found in plants are converted to sugars that are fermented to produce ethanol. This ethanol is then distilled and dried to produce anhydrous ethanol.  New technologies, often referred to as ‘second generation ethanol technologies’ are also emerging that allow raw materials such as forestry waste or municipal solid waste to be turned into ethanol.

Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline for use in motor vehicles. Many ethanol blended gasolines are available throughout Canada, typically varying from five to 10 per cent ethanol blend.

Ethanol blended gasoline improves engine performance while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Gasoline containing 10 per cent ethanol reduces emissions by three to eight per cent.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel manufactured from vegetable oils, recycled cooking greases or animal fats. It can be used either as a blended fuel with petroleum diesel or as a pure fuel. Blended biodiesel can often be used without any engine modification.

Biodiesel reduces the level of several diesel pollutants including sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

Biogas

Biogas may be referred to as “renewable natural gas” or “green methane,” containing approximately 70 per cent methane. Biogas is created through the fermentation of organic feedstock, including manure, food processing waste or various plant life.

Biodigestors heat organic feedstock, causing anaerobic bacteria to multiply and feed on solids within the feedstock. The byproduct of this is biogas. As the gas is produced, it rises to the top of the digester and is collected into a piping system.

Biogas is often used in the generation of electricity to generate heat and steam to drive turbines.