Making bio-fuel stations more plentiful and accessible in the Cowichan Valley is one of the goals of the Cowichan Energy Alternatives organization.
The CEA currently has one bio-fuel station set up at the Bings Creek Recycling Centre, and is working towards establishing more in the Valley.
Speaking to North Cowichan’s council earlier this month, CEA spokesman Brian Roberts said more public access to low-carbon fuel stations in the Valley would help significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region.
He said the CEA is currently processing approximately 500,000 litres of used cooking oil from local restaurants and other sources each year to use as bio-fuel, and the organization is now working to ensure there are enough bio-fuel stations in the area to meet the growing demand.
“Bio-fuels are biodegradable, renewable, non-toxic, clean-burning and most diesel vehicles can use the fuel without any major modifications,” Roberts said.
“Collecting used cooking oils from the area to use as bio-fuel also saves local governments money in repairs to their sewage infrastructure because fats in the sewage systems can cause blockages that require expensive repairs.”
The CEA was founded in 2008 as a non-profit organization focused on providing energy and greenhouse gas emissions inventories and planning services, renewable energy feasibility studies and implementation, and leading community carbon offsetting initiatives through the Community Carbon Marketplace.
The CEA hopes to set up a second bio-fuel station at the Cowichan Petroleum Sales location at 2999 Allenby Rd., at a cost of approximately $100,000.
Roberts said the CEA has applied to North Cowichan’s Climate Action & Energy Plan for $30,000 to help set up the station, and the municipality agreed at its meeting on Aug. 15 to supply $20,000 in funding.
He said the CEA intends to raise the rest of the funding through their extensive contacts in the community.
But Roberts said that with the growing success of the bio-fuel initiatives, the expansion of the bio-fuel stations is expected to continue inside and outside the Valley, with Victoria being a key target.
North Cowichan councillor Tom Walker said he bought a diesel pick-up truck a few years ago and was told at the time that if he used bio-fuels, his warranty would be null and void.
Roberts acknowledged that many car manufacturers have been slow to keep up with the growing popularity and necessity of bio-fuels, but most now do honour warranties as long as customers are using the right blends of bio-fuels.
“As long as the fuels meet acceptable standards, there should be no problems with warranties,” he said.