Gateway Gazette

Clean Energy: Funding of Emission Reduction Alberta (ERA) Projects

By Willem Langenberg, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences/University of Alberta

Since 2007 the Alberta Government has been collecting a Carbon Tax, called a Carbon Levy, from large emitters of CO2. The monies collected were distributed to research projects for emissions reduction. This program was managed under the Progresive Conservatives by the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC), now called the Emissions Reduction Agency (ERA). A financial report on this program, that ran from 2008 till 2016, is available on-line HERE and indicates a CCEMC funding total of $312.7 million.The CCEMC projects were divided in the report in 7 categories, which are listed below together with the funding amount:

  1. Cleaner Energy Production projects
  2. Carbon Capture and Storage projects
  3. Renewable Energy projects
  4. Energy Efficiency projects
  5. Biological projects
  6. Adaptation projects
  7. Carbon Utilization projects
  • $  89.0 million
  • $  41.4 million
  • $100.4 million
  • $  33.6 million
  • $  29.6 million
  • $    7.0 million
  • $  11.7 million

A summary of the recipients of grant monies in the 7 categories is as follows:

  • Of the $89 million for Cleaner Energy Production, $78 million (88%) went to petroleum and related companies such as Imperial Oil, MEG Energy Corp, N-Solv (Suncor) and E-T Energy Ltd.
  • Of the $41.4 million for Carbon Capture and Storage, $35.5 million (86%) went to petroleum and related companies such as Husky Oil, Suncor, Cenovus, CO2 Solutions Inc. and Inventys Thermal Technologies.
  • Of the $100.4 million for Renewable Energy, $25.6 million (25%) went to power companies Enmax and Transalta and $13 million (13%) to the cities of Edmonton and Medicine Hat.
  • Of the $33.6 million for Energy Efficiency, $14.6 million (43%) went to petroleum and related companies such as Suncor, ConocoPhillips, Cenovus and ATCO Gas.
  • Of the $29.6 million for Biological projects, $20 million (68%) went to power generation from wood and production of drop-in renewable diesel fuel. The rest went largely to small projects at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary.
  • Of the $7 million for Adaptation projects, $4 million (57%) went to Alberta Innovates and Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute.
  • Of the $11.7 million for Carbon Utilization, $4.9 million (41%) went to American and English companies involved in CO2 commercialization. The rest went largely to Canadian and American universities.

In summary, $128.1 million (41%) of the CCEMC funding provided for research projects in emission reduction went to petroleum and related companies. In addition, $25.6 million (8%) went to power companies Enmax and Transalta.  Consequently, about 50% of the funding went to companies, which are large emitters and from which the carbon levy was originally collected.

Mark Summers of ERA has indicated that 34% of new ERA’s committed funding is toward projects led by Large Final Emitter (LFE) organizations. This is an improvement from the 50% of the CCEMC funding, that went back to the large final emitters. Consequently, a large percentage of the tax collected from the large emitters was given back to these emitters to advance the technology of cleaning up their operations. This is one approach to reduce emissions and includes the very costly process of carbon capture and storage (CCS). See  HERE  However, there is a much more efficient way to obtain large emission reduction and this is to fund fundamental research in clean energy.

To comply with the 2015 Paris Accord, Canada and other industrial countries have agreed to a 90% reduction in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 and a 50% reduction from 1990 levels in the total energy use. These types of reductions in GHG emissions are difficult to obtain if petroleum (including oil and natural gas) is part of the energy mix. Because of this circumstance, it appears that Clean Energy is more economic than Petroleum based Energy (Obama, 2017, Science, v.355, Issue 6321, pp.126-129). Consequently, it can be argued that the use of petroleum will be eventually phased out.

Traditional policies of cleaning up polluting procedures of energy generation will be inadequate. Fundamental changes in the way we operate are needed to arrive at a carbon-free economy. As British Columbia Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said HERE , “There is no Planet B”.

In 2015, there was a change in the government in Alberta. The Climate Change Advisory Panel pointed the way for phasing in renewable, clean energy in a report released in November 2015. This was reflected by the ERA supporting a Geothermal Energy workshop in September 2016.

If humanity could put a man on the moon, it certainly should be able to obtain clean energy. Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) could play a decisive role in funding fundamental research for developing clean energy.

Source ABC Tech

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