First-of-its-Kind Breakthrough Technology: Biomass Gas to Liquids Plant

North Shore is pleased to announce the regulatory approval of the Expander Energy Inc. Biomass Gas to Liquids Plant in Mitsue Industrial Park!

Earlier this year, Expander Energy Inc. (Expander) received regulatory approval under the provincial government for the first Canadian Biomass Gas to Liquids Plant. This first-of-its-kind plant will utilize breakthrough technologies to produce low-carbon intensity, clean‑burning synthetic diesel fuel (trade named SynDiesel®) made from the adjacently located Vanderwell Contractors (1971) Ltd. forestry residuals. The Plant will concurrently produce marketable volumes of hydrogen from the process.

To date, nearly all low carbon intensity diesel fuel has been supplied from Asia or the US due to lack of domestic supply. Expander’s plant will be one of the first facilities in Canada to supply this need domestically. The low-carbon diesel fuel produced will meet Canada’s new Clean Fuel Standard to 2030 and beyond. This is a significant step in meeting both the Provincial and Federal Government mandates that require diesel fuel to meet progressively more stringent carbon intensity limits.

In addition, the plant is to be constructed on previously disturbed land. This is an environmentally beneficial condition of the plant location, as it reuses used lands and avoids developing undisturbed lands.

North Shore’s Contributions to Regulatory Approval Success

For regulatory success under provincial legislation, the plant required approval under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). Throughout the duration of the project’s regulatory approval phase, North Shore provided project scoping, regulatory recommendations, liaison support, and technical expertise. Initial project activities included upfront consultation on siting, including on-site field excursions to determine suitability and regulatory jurisdiction, and timeline determination. Regulatory approval application preparation included or coincided with biophysical field assessments, dispersion modelling of proposed equipment and background sources, and notifications to local industry players. All project components were completed in-house, utilizing North Shore’s wide range of environmental experts and technological resources.

The Pre-disturbance Assessment was completed in support of the EPEA Approval Application and in accordance with the Alberta Soil Monitoring Directive and sections of the Alberta Energy Regulator Direction 001: Direction for Conservation and Reclamation Submission. It encompassed desktop environmental reviews, wetland and watercourse assessments, a wildlife sweep, noxious and prohibited weed inspection, soil survey, and rare plant occurrence assessment. These assessments were completed for accurate characterization of the plant’s environmental setting. All portions of the assessment, from initial kick-off to report preparation and submission, were completed within 4.5 months. A Water Act Approval Application, including a Wetland Assessment and Impact Form (WAIF), was also completed in coordination with the wetland and watercourse assessments, to obtain approval for two assessed wetlands. The Water Act Approval Application, completed in accordance with the Alberta Wetland Policy, was prepared and submitted within 1 month. 

The Air Quality Assessment was also completed in-house in support of the EPEA Approval Application. The assessment was completed to ensure the maximum ground level concentrations of nitrogen dioxide from all continuous sources at the Plant, as well as the existing and approved nearby sources, were predicted to comply with the Alberta Ambient Air Quality Objectives within the modelled domain. Dispersion modelling was performed to predict the change in ground level concentrations in accordance with the requirements outlined within the AEP Air Quality Model Guideline. Meteorology, land use classification codes, terrain, and building downwash affects were all evaluated as part of the assessment. The Air Quality Assessment was submitted within 2 weeks of receiving final engineering revisions.

The EPEA Approval Application was completed in accordance with the AEP Guide to Content for Industrial Approval Applications. Applicable sections were completed using data and findings from the Pre-disturbance Assessment and Air Quality Assessment. Remaining sections were completed by means of identifying regional frameworks and resource plans, determining location zoning and ensuring long term opportunities were in unification with the project, conducting rainfall intensity calculations and determining runoff pond capacity requirements, preforming preliminary consultation with stakeholders within Mitsue Industrial Park, and depicting the Plant’s design pertaining to construction and operation details. The EPEA Approval Application was prepared and submitted within 4 months from initial kick-off. The final draft was completed within 2 weeks of receiving final engineering revisions.

Post-application submission, ongoing regulatory liaison activities were completed to facilitate timely turnaround of the Approval. North Shore continued to provide expertise regarding Approval conditions and assist with Approval drafting. This included the coordination between AEP and Expander requirements, expert knowledge of regulatory frameworks affecting Approval conditions, and in-depth understanding of the project’s location, environmental influences, and construction and operation designs. The Approval for a first-of-its-kind plant encompassing many newly innovative technologies and site-specific obstacles was obtained within 5.5 months from submission!

Project Remarks

North Shore would like to take this moment to thank Expander for allowing us the opportunity to work on this extraordinary project. It has been an absolute pleasure working with the individuals that make up Expander’s tremendous team, as well as to work on such a unique, first-of-its-kind project.

North Shore is very excited to see what other innovative and environmentally beneficial projects Expander has in store for Canada’s energy market in the future!

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