Increasing Manitoba’s Renewable Fuel Standard: Good for our environment, our economy, and our farms
February 19, 2020
It’s been a difficult year for farmers, but Manitoba’s 7,500 canola growers are encouraged by Premier Pallister’s commitment to this year expand Manitoba’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) from the current 2% renewable content in diesel to 5%.
This progressive policy change is a win-win-win for Manitoba’s environment, for our economy and for our farmers. It is an effective way to reduce emissions from transportation fuel and will have positive impacts on air quality and the environment. Canola renewable fuels produce up to 90% less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel (on a lifecycle basis), are certified sustainable, and can immediately reduce the carbon footprint of all diesel vehicles in Manitoba, including heavy duty trucks like those that transport goods down our highways and carry canola to processing facilities as well as farm equipment.
Given the current unpredictability in global trade, this change is also an opportunity to diversify markets for farmers with increased demand right here at home. Our organization, along with the Canola Council of Canada and the Canadian Canola Growers Association, are committed to diversifying markets wherever possible, and working with governments to expand the domestic use of canola as a renewable fuel is an important part of that strategy to support canola farmers.
In recent days, you may have heard claims that renewable fuels like biodiesel are not suited to Manitoba’s climate and operating conditions. Fortunately, we can draw upon years and millions upon millions of kilometers of biodiesel experience to confirm that when properly managed, high quality biodiesel blends are successful in cold climates like Manitoba’s. We need only look to the experience from other jurisdictions that have increased renewable fuel mandates, such as our neighbor Minnesota. The state has successfully implemented a 5% mandate in winter months, going up to 20% each year from mid-April through September.
Canola is especially well suited as a feedstock for cold weather biodiesel operability because of its low saturated fat content. During the coldest months, fuel additives can be used to ensure functionality, just as they are for petroleum diesel. Flexibilities available to wholesale, cardlock, and retail fuel providers enable the slightly higher biodiesel blends to be supplied into the market with little to no changes required to existing infrastructure. Fuel price impacts are also minimal, costing less than an additional ¾ of a cent per litre to increase the renewable content from 2 to 5%. When that biofuel is made with canola, this value stays in the rural economy.
Currently in the marketplace there are two types of diesel-based biofuels: biodiesel and renewable diesel. Both products can be used to fulfill Manitoba’s increased renewable fuel standard. While Manitoba has not yet achieved global-scale biodiesel or renewable diesel production, policies like the increased Manitoba RFS and a well-designed federal Clean Fuel Standard are critical to expanding capacity. This policy sends a strong market signal for more domestic canola processing and investment in renewable fuel production here in Manitoba. This is exactly what we are working toward. Continuing Manitoba’s clean fuel leadership is a step in that right direction for our environment, our economy and our farmers.
The Manitoba Canola Growers Association (MCGA) represents approximately 7,500 farmers in Manitoba that grow canola. Manitoba Canola Growers are funded by growers. Every dollar spent is leveraged at the local, national, and international levels on research and marketing. MCGA is committed to maximizing net income for canola farmers through sustainable production. For more information, visit www.canolagrowers.com or follow us on Twitter @CanolaGrowers.