Alberta’s electricity and energy sectors are facing new challenges and opportunities as they work to reduce emissions, create new uses for resources and continue powering the province and beyond.

Through Emissions Reduction Alberta’s Partnership Intake Program and Alberta Innovates’ Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge, Alberta’s government is funding new projects to help the electricity and energy sectors reduce emissions, diversify and create jobs.

This investment will support nine innovative projects that will help install new battery energy storage systems and turn oil bitumen into carbon fibres, which are used to make products like aircrafts and hockey sticks light and durable, and electric cars safer and more efficient.

“Alberta is a place of industry visionaries eager to bring their amazing emissions-reduction ideas to life, and this funding shows just how aligned our innovation system is when it comes to advancing transformative technologies that lead to future materials and markets. Alberta is proud to support these projects, which will help our province maintain a reliable electricity system and create demand for Alberta bitumen.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas

This investment is part of Alberta’s Emissions Reduction and Energy Development Plan and Alberta’s work to reduce emissions while growing the economy. If successful, the nine projects are estimated to reduce emissions by 280,000 tonnes each year, create more than 780 jobs and inject $272 million into Alberta’s gross domestic product by 2025.

Funding recipients will be required to report on project outcomes, achievements, and lessons learned including emissions reductions, job creation, and other environmental, economic, and social benefits.

“It takes more than good ideas to commercialize and deploy new technologies that reduce emissions and grow the economy. Emissions Reduction Alberta is pleased to support game-changing technologies that will lead to future materials, energy systems and markets with funding from the Government of Alberta, and in collaboration with our partners in the innovation system.”

Justin Riemer, chief executive officer, Emissions Reduction Alberta

“The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is creating long-term value from Alberta’s bitumen and demonstrates considerable innovation in the energy sector. Alberta Innovates’ drive to add value, along with our partners, is critical to the province’s future. This work will lead to significant economic benefits for all Albertans and industry.”

Laura Kilcrease, chief executive officer, Alberta Innovates

Four of the projects will help improve Alberta’s electricity system by integrating new low-carbon technologies and innovations, including energy storage, to lower prices and reduce emissions in the years ahead.

Among the projects, PIP Lethbridge will add thermal energy storage at its food processing facility, and TransAlta will install a new battery system near Cochrane, creating the largest battery energy storage system in Alberta. The funding will also support Solartility’s trial solar array for agricultural use, and a special on-site oil extraction and upgrading process led by NanosTech that will reduce process costs and emissions.

“The Government of Alberta’s funding through Emissions Reduction Alberta is critical to demonstrating our new thermal innovation that is applicable across many industries. By supporting our decarbonization project, we will demonstrate a first-of-its-kind technology in Alberta and Canada. With ERA’s funding and partners, together, we will unlock thermal decarbonization options that are desperately needed to reach our GHG reduction goals.”

Christine Lewington, chief executive officer, PIP Lethbridge Inc.

“Our ISUT™ project, powered by ‘green chemistry,’ is tangible evidence that collaboration between government, private industry and NanosTech can meet our 2030 climate goals today. The Government of Alberta is putting its words into action. Technological innovation is going to enable Canada's energy sector to compete on a global scale.”

Myles McGovern, president and chief executive officer, NanosTech

The remaining five projects will turn bitumen into carbon fibre, further supporting the creation of value-added industries and the Bitumen Beyond Combustion initiative of Alberta Innovates to demonstrate that Alberta’s oil and gas sector can reduce emissions while strengthening the economy. Funding to the University of British Columbia, Thread Innovations, CarboMat, Enlighten Innovations and NORAM Engineering and Constructors Ltd. will support various projects turning Alberta’s bitumen into carbon fibres. Alberta bitumen is a preferred feedstock for carbon fibre production because of its chemical properties and the ability to reduce the cost of producing carbon fibre compared to the current feedstock and methods.

Transforming the heavy portion of a barrel of bitumen into advanced materials, such as carbon fibre, is an Alberta technology and innovation story. Diverting bitumen away from the combustion cycle could increase the value of Alberta bitumen resources over 100 per cent from about $60 a barrel to $180 a barrel. Alberta Innovates estimates that bitumen beyond combustion products could generate up to $60 billion annually by 2050, contributing to Alberta’s low-carbon economy and low-carbon materials.

“Global decarbonization will require more widespread use of advanced, lightweight materials such as carbon fibres. This creates an opportunity to transform Alberta into a producer of these high-value materials from low-value oil sands bitumen. But, developing the new technologies required to make it happen is an ambitious undertaking. Funding by the Government of Alberta through ERA is crucial to advancing this work.”

Neil Camarta, director, Enlighten Innovations

Quick facts

  • Through Emissions Reduction Alberta, the Government of Alberta has committed $910 million toward 260 projects worth $7.3 billion that are helping reduce 40 million tonnes of emissions by 2030, keep industry competitive and lead to new business opportunities in Alberta.
  • Under the Partnership Intake Program, funding amounts per project range from $950,000 to $5 million from the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction fund.

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