Emissions Reduction Alberta launches $50 million Natural Gas Challenge


Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is launching a new $50 million Natural Gas Challenge, aimed at innovating Alberta’s natural gas value chain, supporting cleantech in the province, and improving the competitiveness of the natural gas industry.

“The $50 million Natural Gas Challenge will strengthen Alberta’s natural gas industry, and tap into a growing global market.”

The news comes less than a week after Alberta’s United Conservative Party tabled the province’s new budget. Part of this budget included the replacement of the carbon tax with the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system. The system aims to make it more manageable for the carbon-intensive producers of oil and other products to meet emission guidelines. The budget estimated TIER will collect $556 million this year. ERA said the Natural Gas Challenge is aligned with TIER.

Through the new initiative, ERA will back cleantech projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by funding up to $10 million per project and up to 50 percent of total project expenses. Qualified technologies can come from inside or outside Alberta, but must be piloted, demonstrated or implemented in the province. Funding will be sourced from the carbon price paid by large GHG emitters in Alberta.

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“Industry and innovators told us that developing and deploying next-generation technologies is essential to improving the economic and environmental performance of the entire natural gas value chain,” said Steve Macdonald, CEO of ERA. “Our $50 million Natural Gas Challenge is designed to identify and deliver solutions to address the challenges faced by the sector.”

ERA said Alberta generated almost 70 percent of the commercial natural gas in Canada last year, and that the province emitted 35 million tonnes of carbon emissions from natural gas production and processing. This, ERA said, offers an opportunity to increase cost competitiveness along Alberta’s natural gas value chain, to switch natural gas into value-added products, and to decrease GHG emissions.

ERA is teaming up with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF) to explore funding opportunities beyond ERA’s scope through NGIF’s $3 million Cleantech Competition for the production of natural gas in Canada, which will offer projects access to potential partners and testing facilities.

“Supporting innovation is an important part of our strategy to revitalize Alberta’s natural gas sector, create good-paying energy jobs, and help Albertans get full value for their natural gas,” said Dale Nally, Alberta’s associate minister of natural gas. “Initiatives like ERA’s $50 million Natural Gas Challenge gives us the opportunity to accelerate the development of technologies that improve the cost, competitiveness, and long-term sustainability of this key sector.”

Proposals can be submitted by developers, industrial organizations, small and medium-sized businesses, R&D organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profits, and individuals. Partnerships are also encouraged to apply. The application deadline is December 19 at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time.

“Supporting innovation is an important part of our strategy to revitalize Alberta’s natural gas sector.”

Applications open November 4, and selections will be made through ERA’s review process, through which a team of experts in science, engineering, business, commercialization, financing, and GHG quantification will conduct an independent review overseen by a fairness monitor. ERA funding recipients are required to produce a “final outcomes” report that will be shared with the public.

Successful candidates are also required to match ERA’s investment with private funds, making the total investment at least $100 million in potential total project value.

“The $50 million Natural Gas Challenge will strengthen Alberta’s natural gas industry, and tap into a growing global market,” said Jason Nixon, Alberta’s minister of environment and parks. “This challenge will extract more value from our natural gas products while helping lower our carbon intensity, accelerating innovation and technology, creating jobs, and ensuring the resilience of our natural resource sector.”

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“A focus on innovation along the natural gas value chain offers to make Alberta and Canada a more competitive global leader in the delivery of cost-effective, technologically sound, environmentally preferable, solutions to energy challenges the world over,” said John Adams, managing director of the Natural Gas Innovation Fund. “Taking action and advancing the right cleantech innovation to achieve emissions reduction along the natural gas value chain will help Alberta and Canada to achieve its environmental commitments while maintaining the competitive advantage that natural gas provides.”

ERA also announced the winners of its Grand Challenge, a funding competition aimed at finding innovative technologies that turn carbon dioxide emissions from a waste stream into valuable products. Vancouver-based Mangrove Water Technologies and CarbonCure Technologies, a company based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, each received $5 million from the competition.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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