Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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BCTA raises biodiesel concerns ahead of fuel rule

LANGLEY, B.C. -- Mandated biodiesel content in B.C.’s fuel supply is a little more than a year away, but the B.C. Trucking Association says there are still a lot of questions that need answering.

In 2006, the federal government revealed plans to implement a Renewable Fuels Standard. The nationwide standard will require 5 percent renewable content (ethanol) in gasoline by 2010 and 2 percent renewable content (B2 biodiesel) in diesel by 2012.

The B.C. government, however, is ahead of the curve.

In February 2007, the provincial government released the 55-point B.C. Energy Plan, which among many other things calls for renewable fuel content in the province’s fuel supply.

The provincial standard will require a 5 percent renewable fuel content in both gasoline and diesel by 2010.

The BCTA does recognize the effort in the BC Energy Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the good of the province’s citizens. And, the association acknowledges the industry’s part, as a large consumer of diesel fuel, to play an integral role in the carbon reduction solution.

But the association is concerned a B5 standard across the province will impose additional costs on trucking companies, which are already coping with a carbon tax imposed on diesel this year -- on top of regular market prices, decreased fuel efficiency from ULSD and 2007 diesel engine standards, and projections for other cost increases including bridge tolls and a three-cent increase to TransLink’s portion of the motor fuel tax collected in the Lower Mainland.

BCTA isn't convinced the emissions savings from biodiesel
are enough to risk financial hardship to the industry

According to BCTA's researched done by the BCTA, there are several concerns related to biodiesel.

For one thing, the energy content of biodiesel can be lower than normal diesel, which means more biodiesel needs to be consumed to do the same work as conventional fuel.

The cloud point of biodiesel in cold weather conditions -- the temperature at which crystals begin to appear in the fuel and plug up filters -- is higher than petroleum diesel. So, cold weather operability will need to be addressed for the entire province, as some regions experience significantly harsher winter conditions.

Also, the impact of mixing regular diesel, and different percentages of biodiesel blends could create premature plugging of fuel filters, BCTA points out.

And the impact of biodiesel on fuel prices when mandated quantities must be produced and distributed is still unknown.

"The use of biodiesel may be beneficial in predictable operating circumstances and environments, such as for Lower Mainland or southern Vancouver Island truck or bus fleets," notes the association. "When the age and geographic range for fleets are well controlled and the temperature range in which they operate is generally restricted, there are fewer potential problems. This starkly contrasts with the variability of operating circumstances for highway trucking."

The BCTA has outlined their concerns and recommended alternatives in a letter to Graham Whitmarsh, head of the Premier’s Climate Change Secretariat.


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