by BETTER FARMING STAFF
An Ontario fuel pellet manufacturer has inked a $36 million agreement to supply homes and institutions in northern Italy with biofuel.
Ian Moncrieff, president and CEO of Canadian Biofuel, based in Chatham, says the contract is for five years and has been brokered by U.S.-based Greene’s Energy Group LLC. Moncrieff says he cannot reveal the name of the purchaser because of a confidentiality agreement. Other news reports have identified the company as Toronto-based Green Dot Biomass Energy Company Inc. According to its website, Green Dot’s Italian-based parent company is Helios S.R.L.
A Green Dot representative did not respond to an emailed request for an interview but did acknowledge during a brief telephone conversation that she was familiar with Canadian Biofuel.
Moncrieff says the pellets will be burned in central heating plants serving apartments and institutional residences.
“The demand for pellets in Europe is going up exponentially,” he says, noting the demand for pellets in Italy is expected to reach three million tonnes this winter and the country has the capacity to produce only 600,000 tonnes. Previously, Italy turned to northern European countries to make up the difference “however those countries are beginning to use more domestically, which means there’s less to export.”
The agreement will mean increasing Canadian Biofuel’s Springford facility’s production capacity to 48,000 tonnes a year. The plant’s current capacity is 27,000 tonnes annually based on operating 24 hours, six days a week. The facility is located in a former Cargill grain elevator and began production in February.
Moncrieff says the facility makes the pellets from clean, recycled wood.
He’s keen to eventually add pellets made out of energy crops such as miscanthus and switchgrass.
The facility currently employs seven people and the contract will require 15 new hires as well as the addition of another pellet machine, he says. “We have to start delivering 1,200 tonnes of pellets by July 15 bulk in shipping containers and, by October 1, 4,000 tonnes per month.” BF