New biofuels plant planned for Sarnia

(From left to right) MP Kate Young, Research Park Ex. Director Katherine Albion, Woodland CEO Greg Nuttall in Sarnia. August 27, 2019. (BlackburnNews photo by Colin Gowdy)

A federal government investment of nearly $5 million is expected to enable Woodland Biofuels to build its first commercial plant, potentially creating over 300 new jobs in Sarnia.

The announcement was made in Sarnia Tuesday morning at the renewable fuel company’s cellulosic ethanol demonstration plant at the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park on Modeland Road.

Toronto-based Woodland Biofuels is getting a total of $4.7 million from Natural Resources Canada — $1.9 million from the Investments in Forest Industry Transformation program and $2.8 million from the Clean Growth Program.

Woodland CEO Greg Nuttall said the money will fund the third and final stage of pre-construction engineering.

“Once that stage is done, then we’ll be ready to build an 80 million litre, 21 million gallon commercial plant,” said Nuttall. “The current expectation is that that plant will be located right here in Sarnia and that it will generate approximately 324 full-time equivalent jobs.”

Nuttall said engineering is a six-to-12-month process after which they’ll be moving to start construction.

The plant would use a mixture of forestry waste and construction and demolition wood waste to produce ethanol, a sustainable and renewable fuel.

Nuttall said Woodland Biofuels is all about developing the economy while making the world a better place by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.

“Transport fuels are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario, in Canada generally, so we can reduce those emissions by up to 92 per cent. This is one of the few ways that we can really move the needle on climate change,” he said.

The fuel is also produced at a lower cost than making gasoline from oil.

Kate Young, the parliamentary secretary for science and sports, and public services and procurement and accessibility, made the funding announcement on behalf of Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Amarjeet Sohi.

She said the investment was a no-brainer for the Trudeau government.

“You have a company like Woodland Biofuels who really gets it, who knows how to grow the economy and fight climate change,” said Young. “And that’s what’s happening with this announcement, the fact there are going to be 324 jobs created, as a result of this $4.7 million investment, I think that speaks for itself.”

Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park Executive Director Katherine Albion said they’re proud to partner with Woodland Biofuels to facilitate the commercialization of their innovative technology.

-With files from Dave Dentinger