Topia Energy Opens Alternative Fuels Chain

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Topia Energy Opens Alternative Fuels Chain

OTTAWA, Canada-- Topia Energy, Canada's largest producer and distributors of biodiesel fuel, opened the first of a planned nationwide chain of "alternative" fuel stations called GreenStop, according to a report in Business 2.0 .

GreenStop pumps only renewable fuel blends -- traditional diesel spiked with cooking oil, and gasoline mixed with corn ethanol. And its convenience store, dubbed Real Café, takes the concept a step further, tossing out cigarettes and candy bars in favor of organic veggie wraps and coffee that’s been roasted with the aid of solar energy.

"We’re hoping to end the era of stale coffee and bad doughnuts," Govindh Jayaraman, Topia’s president, told Business 2.0 . "We have just been waiting for the right time to make it happen."

GreenStop’s biodiesel costs about $3.75 Canadian per gallon ($3.17 U.S.), about the same as regular unleaded in Canada. The first GreenStop station, in Ottawa, is also structurally "green," constructed from renewable materials such as compressed strawboard and chemical-free linoleum.

Two of GreenStop’s three fuels -- B20, which combines 20 percent biodiesel with 80 percent regular diesel, and E10, which is 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent traditional gasoline -- can be burned by standard engines. The third, which is 85 percent ethanol, is for use in "flexible fuel" vehicles only.

Gas made from such seemingly low proportions of renewable resources might not solve the world’s developing energy crisis, but Topia’s Jayaraman believes it’s an important start. "Imagine if all of a sudden someone were to report that there is 10 percent more gas and 20 percent more diesel in the world than we thought there was," he told Business 2.0 . "We’ve seen what happens when supply goes the other way -- prices shoot up. The same is true in reverse."

Topia plans to open 15 GreenStop stations across Canada and the northeast United States within the next year and reach 50 locations by the end of 2007. If it hits those targets, Jayaraman told Business 2.0 , his company should see sales of $1.5 million in 2006 and upwards of $3 million within three years.