Talking Point

British Columbia Cities 'Fill 'Er Up!' with Clean Burning Biodiesel
By Dennis Rogoza | June 01, 2005
Canada's largest biodiesel demonstration project was launched in British Columbia on March 30. Under the program, Vancouver, Whistler and other municipalities in the province will purchase up to 80 million liters (21 million gallons) of biodiesel blended fuel for municipal fleet use.

Historically, the challenge with alternative fuels entering the marketplace has been the "chicken and egg" scenario: Which comes first-the market or the supply? Biodiesel presents the same question, and I believe we've found a solution.

In British Columbia, a cross-section of agencies and fleets decided to collaborate and coordinate their efforts in order to increase the amount of biodiesel used in the province. Over the previous two years, a small number of fleets used biodiesel in limited quantities. Their experiences were very positive, and there was strong encouragement at both the operational and political levels to expand the use of this alternative fuel. These agencies and fleets agreed that a key step was to create greater market demand, establishing the conditions for biodiesel suppliers to deliver volume-based pricing to fleets. If the market demand is large enough, it is likely that one or more biodiesel plants will be built in the province, followed ultimately by retail distribution.

Fleet Challenge B.C. is a program funded by the Government of Canada that works with partners to achieve a reduction of both tailpipe and greenhouse gas emissions from fleets. In late 2004, it developed the B.C. Biodiesel Market Development Project to put in place the fundamentals needed to grow and sustain a local biodiesel market. These fundamentals include providing technical information, educating fleet managers, and having major fleets demonstrate biodiesel in all operating conditions.

The official launch of the project was held during British Columbia's first biodiesel workshop in Vancouver-attended by 150 fleet managers and executives from companies interested in building biodiesel production facilities. Expert speakers covered the biodiesel basics, including how to use, store and purchase biodiesel, as well as the hands-on experiences of different on-road, transit and marine fleets. The B.C. Biodiesel Case Study, a report that documents the biodiesel experiences of six municipalities in the province, was distributed at the workshop.

B.C. Biofleet, the public fleet demonstration component of the project, was also launched during the workshop. Federal and provincial ministers and mayors from seven participating municipalities were in attendance, signifying the strong level of public interest surrounding the use of biodiesel. Under the B.C. Biofleet brand, a group of British Columbia municipalities have committed to purchasing up to 80 million liter (21 million gallons) of blended biodiesel, making it the largest single group purchase of biodiesel in Canada. All this activity has spurred strong interest from other fleets in the province, as well as in Alberta.

Fleet Challenge B.C. anticipates that the market demand for biodiesel will rise significantly as other users participate in the B.C. Biofleet program. We also expect that one or more biodiesel plants will be operational in British Columbia within the next two years in response to this growth in market demand. Biodiesel is close to achieving the tipping point for commercial production in British Columbia.
More information on this British Columbia biodiesel program is available online at

Dennis Rogoza is director of Fleet Challenge B.C., a program managed by the Fraser Basin Council and sponsored by Natural Resources Canada. Reach him by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (250) 381-5550.
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