A proposed $325-million cogeneration plant near Clavet will produce fuel-grade ethanol, high-protein animal feed and electricity, while providing a market for feed-quality barley and peas.
The Prairie Green Renewable Energy (PGRE) plant has been in the planning stages for about ten years. The project, which would be located in the RM of Blucher adjacent to the eastern boundary of the RM of Corman Park, received conditional zoning approval for heavy industrial from the RM of Blucher last October. Environmental studies for the project were conducted by Clifton Associates.
The PGRE project proponents have an option on a parcel of land near the Cargill canola-crushing plant. The site was chosen because of its proximity to two major railway lines, a major highway, a natural gas pipeline and water pipelines, according to PGRE President and CEO Richard Hopp.
“This project is different from a traditional ethanol plant,” said Hopp in an interview at an open house outlining the proposed project in Clavet on Wednesday, July 26.
“This is a next generation plant where we’re producing three valuable products.
“The main ones are fuel-grade ethanol for the domestic market, high-protein animal feed, and surplus electricity to be sold back to the provincial SaskPower grid.”
The project developers are currently putting the finishing touches on long-term bank financing, and are looking to begin construction of the plant in the spring of 2018.
“Typically, depending on weather, it’s an 18 to 24-month construction period, so if all goes well we could be up and running by 2020,” said Hopp.
At full operation, the proposed cogeneration plant would have about 54 full-time employees, with the majority of those on day shift, said Hopp.
There would also be a “significant” number of construction jobs and indirect economic spin-offs in the transportation and agriculture sectors.
Environmental sustainability and local community accountability are high priority for project proponents, said Hopp. “We’re here for the long-term,” he said.
“We want to be a good neighbour to the community, so we put controls on emissions and smells. Everything possible has been done to mitigate the effects of an industrial facility.”
The plant is designed to produce 196 million litres per year of fuel-grade ethanol for use as a gasoline octane enhancer and fuel additive.
The main market for the ethanol is in western Canada and the western United States. Canada currently imports 1.8 billion litres of ethanol per year, and this plant would “displace” about 196 million litres of those imports, according to Hopp.
“The blending of ethanol is mandated by law,” said Hopp.
The plant is also designed to produce about 228,000 tonnes annually of high protein amino-acid animal feed.
“We focused a lot of time and energy doing research and development with the University of Saskatchewan proving out a blend of feedstock to maximize the protein content of the distiller dried grain that comes out of the plant,” said Hopp. “We did commercial testing in the United States because nobody had the facilities to do it here in Canada. We proved out both the protein content and the nutrient content of the high-protein animal feed, and we’re calling it Prairie Gold HyProtein meal.”
Hopp said the locally-produced high protein feed would be comparable to high-protein US soybean meal, which is widely used in the local hog and dairy industries. He said the eventual goal is to market Prairie Gold HyProtein Meal locally to producers.
The location of the project in the heart of the barley and pea-growing region of the prairies is strategic, said Hopp.
“We’ll provide a market for 25 million bushels annually of barley, and five million bushels of peas,” he said.
“We’re not looking for Number One quality. We’re looking for feed quality.
“We’ve also done some things where we can mitigate the fusarium in barley, so we can take that and it would be a good outlet for that type of product.”
While barley and peas would provide the main feedstock for the plant, it is also capable for utilizing a variety of other crops, said Hopp.
The company’s website is www.pgre.ca .