For Canadians and everyone else around the globe, sustainability is a topic of incredible interest – now and into the future. While we’re all looking for ways to support the environment and cut greenhouse gasses (GHG), what you may not know is that a uniquely Canadian creation is already on its way to promoting a healthier, cleaner environment.
You guessed it – it’s Canadian canola! While created originally to provide Canadians with a healthier cooking oil, Canadian grown canola is also being used in the global production of renewable fuels, supporting the reduction of GHG emissions at home and around the world.
What exactly are biofuels and how is canola used in making it do you ask? Read on to find out!
Biofuels, the low carbon fossil fuel alternative
Canadian grown canola is processed into low-carbon biofuels such as biodiesel, renewable diesel, and sustainable aviation fuel – so not the gasoline powered vehicles most of us drive. These canola-based biofuels go on to be used in municipal fleets, long-haul trucks, and off-road equipment used in the mining, forestry, construction, agriculture, and marine industries1. And when approximately 24% of Canada’s total GHG emissions come from the transportation sector2, canola-based biofuels have the opportunity to make a big difference!
Canola-based biofuels are making a difference!
Canola-based biodiesel has been proven to reduce lifecycle GHG emissions by up to 90 per cent compared to traditional diesel on a life cycle analysis basis3. Knowing this, canola can be an instrumental element in helping Canada meet its goal of reducing total emissions by 30% by 2023 (compared to 2005 levels) and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Since the summer of 2010, diesel fuel in Canada must contain an average volume of at least two per cent renewable content4. Even at this modest level, canola is helping reduce Canada’s annual emissions by 4.4 megatonnes. For a quick comparison, the largest land animal on earth – the elephant – weighs nearly 7 metric tonnes, so canola has already helped to reduce the weight of more than 628,000 elephants in GHGs!
Canada’s new Clean Fuel Regulations (CFR) came into effect on July 1, 2023, which requires fuels used in Canada to become cleaner by 2030 by lowering their carbon intensity5. This, coupled with the continued advancement in supply and production practices of renewable diesel, could soon see the percentage of canola-based biofuels increase to between five and 10%. Imagine how many GHGs that could help prevent!
What’s next for canola-based biofuels?
One thing we know to be true – canola grown by the 43,000 Canadian farmers is currently helping Canada in its quest to achieve emissions-reductions targets and transition to a low-carbon economy. But the possibilities are so much more.
As canola looks to play a bigger role in Canada’s fuel supply, over the next decade we could see:
- Canola-based biofuels becoming more readily available for Canadians
- Increased demand in canola world-wide to support an increase in desire for biofuel production within the existing industries it supports
- Canola-based biofuels in other transportation sectors, such as the aviation and marine sectors.
- Health Canada. 2012. Human Health Risk Assessment for Biodiesel Production, Distribution and Use in Canada. 56-70, 91-106.
- Canola Council of Canada. About Canola Oil. www.canolacouncil.org
- O’Connor, D. 2011. Lifecycle Analysis Canola Biodiesel. (S&T) 2 Consultants Inc. 22.
- Wolinetz, M., Hein, M. 2017. Biofuels in Canada 2017. Tracking biofuel consumption, feedstocks and avoided greenhouse gas emissions. Navius Research Inc. ii,15, 22.
- Government of Canada. Clean Fuel Regulations. www.canada.ca