Plans for green jet fuel plant in Ontario north flame out

BurningFuelsComparisonNearly two years ago, an LA-based company called Rentech Inc. announced plans to build a biofuels plant four hours north of Sault St. Marie, Ontario. It would use forest waste and “unmerchantable” tree species for making renewable jet fuel and naphtha, a chemical feedstock used to make all sorts of products. That plant was supposed to be operational in 2015. It was supposed to employ up to 1,000 people during peak construction, and keep 83 people directly employed full time in a region of the province that could really use those jobs.

Ain’t gonna happen, it seems.

The company put out a press release last night announcing that it is ceasing operations, reducing staff, and eliminating all R&D related to new technology development. And yes folks, I’m told that would includes its Ontario “Olympiad” project, which was to use a Fischer-Tropsch process to turn biomass into 85 million litres of green fuel annually. It means the deal Rentech signed with the Ontario government that gave it access to up to 1.1 million cubic metres of Crown timber is effectively dead wood. The question is whether those access rights will be transferred to one of the competing projects from local companies that bid against Rentech and lost.

It’s funny (or not so funny) how many grand announcements from government never actually come to fruition. This, in my view, could have been a good project. It’s a shame for the people living in that region. They could have used the economic boost.

7 thoughts on “Plans for green jet fuel plant in Ontario north flame out”

  1. Tyler,
    As always, good lookin out. So after reading the PR it looks like another promising technology gets put on hold due to a lack of political will to move to a clean energy paradigm. Coal and oil and tar sands will continue to receive massive subsidies as we continue down the path to extinction.

    While it’s doubtful that Rentech’s technology would or could be more than a “fill-in” for our liquid fuel needs it might have at least provided enough diesel to keep some food trucks running as fossil based diesel becomes prohibitively expensive or unavailable.

    Good to see that they intend “protecting their intellectual property” as, God forbid, someone else be able to do what they could not. (sorry for the sarcasm)

  2. Curious to know what “massive subsidies” oil and coal continue to receive. Last I looked, the oil industry in Alberta was a huge source of royalties for the government and thereby the people of Alberta and via transfer payments, the rest of Canada.

  3. “as we continue down the path to extinction”

    Edward, could you possibly provide some evidence that argues that we are heading down the path to extinction. One thing to make a declaration, quite another thing to provide some proof.

    This for example is an example of evidence: Global warming stopped 16 years ago, Met Office report reveals

    Read more:–deniers-now.html

    So Edward, it seems that your argument that CO2 causes Global Warming has been scientifically shot through with holes. What’s a GLobal Warming proponent like you going to do, besides make unsupportable declarations I mean….

  4. Interesting, there was nothing wrong with my email except that I contained a point of view in opposition to that which Edward Kerr held. For that reason alone, it would appear I was not welcome to contribute.

    Your right of course. Also proof that facts and reason don’t fit the agenda here. What a shame for all taxpayers that those who deplore facts control the low information voter.

    Good luck.


  5. Edward,
    I’m afraid your facts are not actually spot on. The “massive subsidies” you refer to are mostly accelerated write downs. When oil companies explore for oil, they’re taking a chance that they’ll find it in quantities large enough to be profitable to recover it from the ground. To partly offset the risk of not finding anything, our government allows the capital costs involved in exploration to be written off faster than they might otherwise be able to. Instead of the equipment being devalued over 5 years it might be written off over 2 for example. There is no down side to this equation because if gas or oil is discovered, industry does not have to figure out how to use it or if it can be gotten out of the ground. If oil or gas is found we know how to get it, how to store it and how to use it. All the while creating hundreds of jobs as test wells are drilled. And the risk of not finding it is not as great as it once was but the write downs are a small price to pay for all the exploration going on that might not otherwise happen.

    Compare this to green energy subsidies which if successful, might produce a new source of energy, if we can figure out how to use it and it’s not prohibitvly expensive to produce, store and use. Do I really need to elaborate on this point? Oil=energy. Find it and use it. Research=promise of future energy.

    I’m not against the idea of green energy but I am against paying breathtakingly high prices for the energy to do the same job in the future that we do today with a cheap gallon of gas.

    If you really want to save the world, I suggest you start walking or riding a bike because cheap plentiful renewable energy is still a long way off.

    “The stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stones” When green energy becomes an affordable reality instead of a giant sinkhole of public money, then we’ll be running our cars and trucks on whatever green sludge that Al Gore thinks is most politically correct and profitable for him.

    Geoff H.

  6. Thank God something intervened here. Common sense? Sound economics? How pulling 1.1 million cubic metres of wood from a very effective carbon sink is considered effective resource management defies logic. About as much as McGuinty’s imposition of costly, supremely inefficient windtowers, replete with gas-fired generation as backup.
    Just. Plain. Stupid.

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