Low Carbon Fuel

Last updated on February 15, 2024

Under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS), a low carbon fuel is a fuel that has a carbon intensity below the annual target and displaces a base fuel (petroleum-based gasoline or diesel). The carbon intensity of a fuel is the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing or consuming a transportation fuel, expressed as grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per megajoule of energy in the fuel (gCO2e/MJ). The carbon intensity accounts for the greenhouse gases emitted during the entire lifecycle of the fuel, including emissions from the production of the fuel and emissions associated with the energy and materials used within the fuel lifecycle.

Quantifying the greenhouse gases using the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) allows fuels that emit greenhouse gases with different global warming potentials to be compared. Fuels come in a variety of forms (e.g., solid, liquid, gas, electricity) so carbon intensities are measured on a per unit of energy basis instead of a volume basis. This allows for easy comparison between all fuel types.

Lifecycle Assessment

A "fuel lifecycle" encompasses all the components of a fuel product's life including extraction or production of the feedstock (raw material used to produce the fuel), transportation of the feedstock, production of the fuel, transportation of the finished fuel, storage and distribution of the fuel, and the use of the fuel.

A lifecycle assessment (LCA) considers the emissions that occur during each component and from the production of energy and materials used within each component. Fuels come from a diversity of sources, and consideration of the full lifecycle is a means of ensuring that there is a net environmental benefit regardless of how or where the fuel is produced.

Carbon Intensity Applications

The Low Carbon Fuels Act and the proposed Low Carbon Fuels (Technical) Regulation allow low carbon fuel producers to propose a carbon intensity for a fuel they produce, subject to director approval.

The LCFS allows two methods for applicants to calculate a proposed carbon intensity for a fuel:

  1. Using the approved version of GHGenius to calculate the proposed carbon intensity for the fuel.
  2. Using an alternative method to calculate the proposed carbon intensity of all or some of the lifecycle components for a fuel. This method must be approved by the director prior to use within a carbon intensity application. It is therefore recommended that the producer submit a request to the director for the alternative method prior to submitting a carbon intensity application and include supporting documentation and rationale showing the proposed method is more accurate than using the approved version of GHGenius.  Reviews of alternative methods can be time consuming and will likely result in processing delays.

Once the proposed carbon intensity has been calculated in accordance with method 1 or 2 above, the applicant must:

  1. Complete the Carbon Intensity Approval Application Form (Form for applications using GHGenius 5.02b)
  2. Submit the form and any supporting documentation or reports to lcfs@gov.bc.ca

Once the application is received, it will enter the application queue for review and verification by ministry staff. Staff will reach out to the applicant if questions arise during the verification process.

If a carbon intensity application is approved, that fuel will be assigned a unique fuel code which can then be used within a carbon intensity record for the sale of that fuel and for compliance reporting.

Additional information about carbon intensity records, the carbon intensity application process, requirements for proposing the use of an alternative method, and the list of current and previously approved fuel codes can be found in the following Information Bulletins: