Biofuels are a low-carbon renewable energy source derived from biomass – organic matter that comes from plant and animal waste. Biofuels are used in a variety of ways, including to produce heat used for industrial purposes, for space and water heating, or to produce steam for electricity generation, as well as for transportation fuel for trucks, buses, and airplanes.

Renewable Energy that Harnesses the Stored Power of the Sun

Biofuels are renewable energy sources made from biological materials that store the sun’s energy. These materials, commonly referred to as biomass, include wood, vegetable oils, animal fats, and food bi-products and waste. Bioenergy is the second most important form of renewable energy in Canada.

Canadian energy meets Canadian agriculture

Biofuels have significant potential as an energy source in Canada given the country’s vast agricultural resources, forested areas, and commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The increasing adoption of biofuels offers opportunities for continued job creation, energy security, air quality improvement, and encouraging both agricultural and rural development, as well as technological innovation.

Canada’s broad agricultural base produces large amounts of corn, wheat, and barley, the most common components of ethanol and biodiesel, which is increasingly common for transportation fuels.

Did you know?

In 2021, Canada was the world’s 9th largest producer of these biofuels—approximately 2 billion litres.

Natural Resources Canada

The terms biomass-based fuels and biofuels are used interchangeably.


Biomass is any organic material derived from plants or animal waste and turned into a fuel and energy source. The most common biomass materials include wood, animal manure, and other organic materials. Biomass can be used directly as an energy source for heating or turned into biofuels for transportation and other energy applications.


Biofuels are energy sources derived from biomass, organic matter that comes from plants and animal waste. The most common biomass fuels are produced from wood and burned to generate electricity or heat. Livestock manure, wastewater solids, or food waste can also be converted into a renewable form of methane, referred to as biogas or green gas.


Ethanol is a specific type of biofuel that is more commonly known. It’s produced by fermenting sugars or starches found in crops such as corn, sugarcane, sugar beets, canola, or wheat. Ethanol can be used as an alternative to gasoline but is also often blended with gasoline as a supplement for high-quality, cleaner fuels. These blends can come in different proportions, with E10 (10% ethanol, 90% gasoline) being the most common blend.


Biodiesel is another type of biofuel made from vegetable oils or animal fats. The production process requires a chemical reaction known as transesterification, where triglycerides in the feedstock are converted into biodiesel and glycerol. Like ethanol, biodiesel can be used as a fuel independently, or it can be blended with regular diesel fuel and still used in diesel engines.

Did you know?

Fires of sustainability

Wood is the most common biomass used to produce energy. Between 4% and 5% of Canadian households use wood as their primary or secondary heating source, representing more than 7% of residential energy use in the country.

Natural Resources Canada

Getting terminology down


Biomass is the original organic material.


Biofuels are derived from biomass.

Fuel Types

Biodiesel and ethanol are specific types of biofuel.

Working in biofuels

Canada’s biofuels industry offers a range of career prospects across various sectors with its potential to address environmental concerns, contribute to sustainable energy production, and promote rural economic development. Backgrounds in fields like biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, agriculture, environmental science, operators, maintenance, and business will be valuable for pursuing various roles in Canada’s biofuels industry.

Biofuels are an established space in the energy industry that continues to grow as the demand for renewable energy increases on Canada’s journey toward net zero. As the sector continues maturing, even more career opportunities will evolve with it.