Renewable fuel train
JAN 10, 2023

Supporting the Growth of the Renewable Fuel Industry

Twenty years ago, the agricultural industry in Canada and the United States was fundamentally transformed by the rapid expansion of ethanol and biodiesel production. There was a dramatic expansion in domestic consumption of corn in the U.S., for example, as ethanol plants were built. The shipment of ethanol and distillers dried grains by rail developed quickly and today movement of these products by rail is a key component of CN’s US grain franchise. Fast forward to today and we are seeing another revolution in the production of biofuels, led this time by renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.

serving our customers on 3 coasts

CN’s network and connected infrastructure makes CN a key player in the rapidly developing renewable fuels market in North America. CN plays an important role transporting seed to oilseed crush plants, transporting vegetable oil and other feedstocks to refineries, and shipping renewable fuels to end markets. CN directly serves all the major energy hubs in North America - western Canada’s Heartland, eastern Canada’s terminal and refinery complexes stretching from Sarnia to Saint John New Brunswick, through the U.S. Midwest, and down to the Gulf of Mexico.

CN is well-positioned to support the growth of renewable diesel production, with major renewable fuels capacity expansions that CN serves directly at the U.S. Gulf, as well as current and future touchpoints in Canada and the U.S. Linking seed to oil, oil and tallow to renewable refinery, and refinery to end market, CN delivers a low-cost integrated and efficient supply chain solution. Canola oil and soybean oil are both going to be important sources of feedstock to support the dramatic expansion in renewable fuels production in North America. The new canola crush plant announcements in western Canada and soybean crush projects in the United States coming online and being expanded and added are due in large part to renewable fuels taking off. CN’s tri-coastal network also gives customers to move feedstock and finished products east, west and south - opportunity today and over the long term.

There’s room for growth in the ethanol space for CN as well thanks to Canada’s Low Carbon Fuels Standard and the anticipated growth in ethanol consumption in Canada. CN is ready to support the expansion of ethanol consumption in Canada with its reach directly into the heart of ethanol production in the U.S. Midwest.

CN Is the Industry Leader in Locomotive Fuel Efficiency and a Low-Carbon Land Transportation Mode

We not only serve the renewable fuel industry – the growth of the market presents an immediate opportunity to further reduce our emissions.  CN and Progress Rail have partnered with Chevron’s Renewable Energy Group (REG) to test high-level renewable fuel blends including both biodiesel and renewable diesel in support of the companies’ sustainability goals. Trials and qualifications of up to 100% renewable fuel are important steps in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from CN’s existing locomotive fleet, while alternative propulsion locomotive technologies are also being developed.  This program will allow us to better understand the long-term durability and operational impacts of renewable fuels on locomotives, especially in cold weather and plan or any necessary modifications to fully leverage their usage over the next decade. 

43 percent in locomotive GHG intensity since 1993