Ethanol plans still on track

Work continues on what would be Western Canada’s largest ethanol plant.

Two years ago, Prairie Green Renewable Energy (PGRE) revealed its plans to build a plant capable of producing 196 million litres a year of the biofuel.

The biggest existing facility is the 150 million litre Terra Grain Fuels plant in Belle, Plaine, Sask.

PGRE declined to provide an update on the $325 million project, which is supposed to be built in Clavet, Sask.

The plant would convert large quantities of locally sourced feed barley and feed peas into fuel.

However, Dan Greschuck, reeve of the Rural Municipality of Blucher, said the signs look promising for the plant.

“It’s still in the process and they’re talking of possibly having shovels in the ground next year,” he said.

“They have purchased property. I can tell you that much.”

The 160-acre site is located between the Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway main lines, according to PGRE’s website. The plant will be designed to accommodate 100-car unit trains.

Craig Baird, assistant administrator of the RM, said the company previously had right of first refusal on the property but now owns it outright.

“They are definitely still working towards shovels in the ground. They are. They’re still interested,” he said.

Baird said PGRE is keeping its cards close to its chest, but he gets the sense that the project is progressing and that it will be on the same grandiose scale as previously announced.

“I think that they’re very close to announcing something, but we just don’t fully know yet,” he said.

The hangup is arranging the enormous quantity of water required for the project.

“That would be the sticking point,” said Baird.

Greschuk agreed, saying the company has gas and power arranged. The water is supposed to come from the Blackstrap Reservoir, according to the company’s website.

“As soon as that gets signed, I think it’s a go-ahead, according to them,” he said.

The plant would require 25 million bushels of feed barley and five million bushels of feed peas a year. The crops would be sourced from within a 200 kilometre radius of Saskatoon.

The facility would produce 196 million litres of ethanol and 228,000 tonnes of high protein livestock feed annually. The feed will be equivalent in nutritional value to soybean meal, according to the website.

PGRE was co-founded by Ernest Nycz in 2007. He has extensive experience in project and engineering management, design and construction, including serving as project manager for Trans Alta Energy Corp.’s $118 million Edmonton Co-Composting facility.

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