Tidewater Renewables’ renewable diesel complex at its refinery in Prince George, Colombia, is expected to begin production in late August.

The 3,000 bpd (barrels per day) renewable diesel and renewable hydrogen (HDRD) complex is Canada’s first standalone renewable diesel facility, according to Tidewater.

“Tidewater Renewables is only weeks away from first production at the HDRD Complex. We take great pride in completing the construction of this innovative facility within two years while maintaining our impeccable safety record,” Tidewater’s interim CEO Rob Colcleugh said on 10 August.

“Its [the HDRD complex]’s cash flow is expected to launch the next stage of Tidewater Renewables’ growth.”

Announcing the company’s second quarter earnings on 10 August, Colcleugh was quoted by Biodiesel Magazine as saying the company had commissioned the feedstock pre-treatment unit with canola oil.

According to its website, Tidewater Renewables focuses on the production of low carbon fuels including renewable diesel, renewable hydrogen and renewable natural gas, as well as carbon capture through future initiatives.

The company processes a range of renewable feedstocks – such as tallow, used cooking oil (UCO), distillers corn oil, soyabean oil, canola oil and others – into low carbon fuels.

As Tidewater’s facility is Canada’s only renewable diesel facility, its production will make up the country’s entire 2023 annual production total, according to a report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The company was also looking into production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the 14 August Canada - Biofuels Annual said.

In addition to Tidewater’s production capacity, combined investment announcements to date totalled 3.02bn litres of renewable diesel, excluding companies that had cancelled plans.

The next renewable diesel facility to open in Canada was likely be the Braya Renewable Fuels facility in Come By Chance, Newfoundland, which would reportedly have a production capacity of more than 820M litres/year, the report said.

Braya is converting the facility from an oil refinery and will receive up to CDN$86M in federal investments, subject to final negotiations, according to the report.

Feedstocks would reportedly include UCO, corn oil and animal fat, the report said.

At the time of the report, the country had 11 biodiesel facilities, with a capacity of 913M litres although only half were operational.

Canola crushing capacity is forecast to increase from 11.3M tonnes in 2022 to 16.5M tonnes in 2025, according to a series of industry announcements.

“This growth is in conjunction with several announcements for new renewable diesel plants and expansions of established biodiesel facilities,” the USDA said.

Canada’s biodiesel plants are export-orientated and in an average year, 88%-99% of biodiesel produced in the country is exported with almost all shipped to the USA while only a small percentage heads to Europe. Canada exported 200M litres of biodiesel in the first five months of this year, compared to 160M litres during the same period last year.

Last year’s biodiesel imports totalled 400M litres while, so far this year, 223M litres had been imported. Nearly all the biodiesel consumed in Canada is imported from the USA, according to the report.

At the time of the report, there was no SAF production in Canada.

However, some of the country’s major airlines were using SAF on some flights, purchasing fuel overseas where available, the report said. For example, Air Canada reportedly began purchasing Neste’s SAF in last February 2022.

The Canadian government’s Aviation Climate Action Plan 2022-2030 had set an aspirational goal of 10% SAF use by 2030, the report said.

If this goal was to be reached, Canada would need to source more than 1bn litres/year of SAF by 2030, based on predictions form the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) that 2030 jet fuel consumption would increase to 10.6bn litres by 2030.