Premier David Eby said the opening of Canada’s first renewable diesel and hydrogen complex in Prince George will allow northern British Columbia escape previous boom-and-bust cycles and help B.C. compete for companies that look to decarbonize operations.
Eby made these comments Friday (June 16) in Prince George, where he was touring the $380-million facility, which Tidewater Renewable will soon operate following three years of planning and construction. Plans call for the eventual annual production of 170 million litres of diesel, whose CO2 emissions will be 80 to 90 per cent lower than traditional diesel by blending traditional fuel with bio-feedstock like canola, tallow and tall oil.
The facility, which will create 30 permanent jobs, will also be able to produce renewable hydrogen usable for the production of low carbon fuel and other potential uses.
“It will create good new jobs, cleaner air and boost the local economy,” Eby said. “This is the result of Tidewater Renewable’s commitment in British Columbia and in Prince George.”
The provincial government is covering more than 40 per cent of the project costs through the provincial low carbon fuel standard. It awards credits for actions that increase the use of low-carbon fuels or reduce the carbon intensity of a low-carbon fuel.
Prince George Mayor Simon Yu welcomed the pending start of operations at the facility. “This project will put Prince George on the map, renewable diesel first, then renewable jet fuel after and I’m sure there will be many other projects to come,” he said.
Friday’s announcement was the second in as many days, where Eby highlighted provincial investments and initiatives in renewable forms of energy. On Thursday, he was part of an historic call for renewable power by BC Hydro as the province looks to expand energy production. The decarbonization of the economy in B.C. and beyond its borders requires renewable energy and B.C. has an opportunity to supply that power, he said. He repeated that message Friday.
“The hydrogen generated here in B.C. can decarbonize steel mills in Korea, creating global solutions for climate change,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time, we have to be ready to take it on.” He added that 24 different proposals worth billions to create green hydrogen with renewable energy have come forward. “The success of these project will depend on the availability of electricity,” he said.
Other jurisdictions, however, are also moving forward and B.C. cannot sit on the sidelines, especially when the province competing is against what Eby called “historic investments in climate incentives” south of the border in pointing to the Inflation Reduction Act, a massive subsidy program for green energy funded by the United States’ government. It has already encouraged companies from around the world to move operations to the United States or scale back in their home markets, including Canada.
Eby also predicted that investments by companies like Tidewater Renewable will help forestry-dependent communities like Prince George, which has seen “big, disruptive changes” in the face of mill closures caused by larger economic and ecological developments in the forest industry.
These changes have arguably been more apparent in communities smaller than Prince George.
Eby said the province has been working with northern communities to help them make better use of available fibre and develop more lucrative product lines, pointing to the BC Manufacturing Jobs Fund worth $180 million as announced earlier this year among other initiatives.
“It’s comprehensive strategy to support these communities,” he said.