The federal government is providing up to $7M to subsidize research into biomasses—plant or animal material used for energy production. The funding will support BioMass Canada (BMC), a research cluster focused on improving technologies for processing agricultural biomass, including waste materials, as a basis for renewable energy.
Funding will come from the federal government’s AgriScience Program, which is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a $3B investment by federal, provincial, and territorial governments, which aims to bolster the agriculture and agri-food sector.
With additional contributions from industry partners, total funding for BioMass Canada amounts to $12.8M.
The biomass cluster will be overseen by BioFuelNet Canada, an organization of scientists and industrial partners that aims to mobilize biofuel advancement.
$7M from AgriScience Program Will Reduce GHGs & Create Jobs
The research cluster will concentrate on several priorities: advancing technologies to boost biomass production; using biomass heat and energy to extend the greenhouse growing season in Northern Canada; reducing production costs; and expanding export markets.
Dr. Donald Smith, Director and CEO of BioFuelNet Canada, says that if one tallies up all the agricultural residues and major crops grown in the country, there could be up to 48 million dry tonnes per year of agricultural residues available.
These residues would provide “enough feedstock to make renewable fuels that could reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions by 50 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.”
McGill University, a key member of the BMC research cluster, will receive up to $888,061 for research into the development of biological inputs that will enhance the growth of biomass crops, including switchgrass. Switchgrass has great potential as biofuel feedstock in clean technology because it can grow in areas of little agricultural value and requires less chemical fertilizer than corn, the current dominant source of ethanol.
BMC’s vision is that, by 2030, the Canadian agricultural sector will be a global leader in the production of biomass for bioenergy and bioproducts.
Canada’s agricultural sector will also be better able to adapt to climate change by expanding in northern regions and developing hardier agricultural products and practices. Additionally, by expanding Canada’s bioeconomy, the cluster will help increase employment in the agriculture and agri-food sector, which has dropped by over 10% since the year 2000.
Government Innovation Grants: CAP’s AgriScience Program
The AgriScience Program, part of the Canadian Agricultural Program, attempts to accelerate innovation in the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector by providing funding and support for pre-commercial science activities and cutting-edge research. The program has two streams:
- AgriScience Clusters, for projects that mobilize industry, government, and academic partnerships, and address national issues. Not-for-profit applicants can receive up to 70% of eligible costs, to a maximum of $20M.
- AgriScience Projects, for single projects or small sets of projects. Not-for-profit applicants can receive up to 70% of costs to a maximum of $5M; for-profit organizations can receive up to 50% to a maximum of $5M.
Intake for AgriScience Clusters has closed, but AgriScience Projects is currently accepting applications. Applicants should be aware that funding is highly competitive.
To receive a guided overview of funding for agriculture projects supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, please register for an upcoming Agriculture and Agri-Food webinar.