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Abstract

We assess the economic feasibility of a 10 million gallon per year biodiesel plant that uses canola seeds as feedstock. A Monte Carlo Cash Flow model is programmed using @Risk simulation software. The model is programmed with three output variables: stream of revenues, profits/loss, and the resulting net present value (NPV) over ten year forecast period. The study finds that the likelihood of the NPV greater than zero is 63% on average. This indicates that the plant may be economically feasible, subject to model assumptions. Sensitivity and scenario analyses show that the NPVs were most affected by fluctuations in biodiesel price, canola seed price, and the price of seed meal. Indeed, over the long-term, feedstock price and biodiesel subsidies remain the major determining factors of profitability in biodiesel production. Historically, feedstock prices have been characterized by high volatility. The profitability of the biodiesel plant hinges to a large extent on the assumption that feedstock prices remain low and regular gasoline prices, especially petroleum diesel, remain stable over the forecast horizon. Moreover, the analysis assumes that the current biodiesel subsidy at $1.00/ gallon remains in effect over the period of the study. Thus, removal of the subsidy would also render biodiesel production unprofitable given current feedstock prices.

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