The Transition Accelerator has released a white paper – Towards Net-Zero Energy Systems in Canada: A Key Role for Hydrogen. The report includes a pan-Canadian perspective on the work of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force which was established in order to develop a framework for implementing a hydrogen economy in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. This white paper provides an assessment of the ability of the region to contribute to the transition towards a net-zero energy future through the acceleration of hydrogen adoption.
Part of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, represents a cluster of world-class refining and processing operations representing $40 billion in capital investments and a wealth of expertise in the energy sector.
As Canada commits to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, most of the fossil carbon-based energy carriers – like gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and natural gas – that currently provide over 70% of secondary energy demand in Canada will need to be replaced with zero-emission energy carriers. Hydrogen has the capacity to fulfill this need.
In order to scale up the hydrogen industry in Canada to meet the anticipated demand, the white paper recommends the establishment of ‘hydrogen nodes’ in regions across the country where the following criteria can be met:
Low cost/low carbon source of blue, green or waste hydrogen
Substantial nearby markets for the hydrogen as fuel and/or industrial feed stock
Ability to cost-effectively connect supply to demand
Scale of supply and demand where the economics work without sustained public investment
Engaged industry, governments and academics to drive and support the initiative
The unique strengths of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland make it an excellent choice when considering where to locate one of these ‘nodes’. The region is among the world’s lowest cost producers of hydrogen. Alberta’s blue hydrogen, in particular, is made with ultra-low emissions by upgrading natural gas and sequestering carbon dioxide.
As well, the region offers well developed existing infrastructure, excellent access to domestic and international markets, a growing clean-tech ecosystem, and skilled labour.
Lastly, the establishment of the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Taskforce has brought together government, industry and academia – clearly demonstrating well rounded support of this initiative.
You can learn more about the study by reading the white paper here.
Minister Mélanie Joly announces $3 million investment to enable small- and medium-sized firms to develop innovative green technologies and support good, local jobs
September 4, 2020 – Edmonton, Alberta – Western Economic Diversification Canada
Alberta’s construction and engineering is a central part of its economy, supporting good jobs across the province. As the industry recovers from the impact of COVID-19, innovation is essential for it to come back strong and support growth across Alberta. The Government of Canada is a partner in these efforts, helping the industry recover, reopen and retool to emerge stronger than before.
Jobs for Alberta
The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), today announced federal funding of $3 million to help Alberta’s construction and engineering industry innovate and grow. This investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada will help small and medium-sized businesses adopt new products and technologies that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
This funding will be directed towards an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization—the Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association (SSRIA)—to establish a network of test buildings where firms can collaborate and test their products under different conditions. WD funding is complemented by an investment of more than $2.8 million from Alberta Innovates, in-kind support from industry and $165,000 from the SSRIA, bringing the total project funding to over $6.3 million.
Products and services expected to be commercialized through this initiative include:
materials for walls, roofs and foundations;
mechanical and electrical system improvements;
sensors and lighting products that reduce energy consumption; and
software for storing and analyzing building performance on energy efficiency and greenhouse gases.
Today’s announcement further supports the construction industry’s shift towards energy efficient and environmentally-friendly practices. In addition to benefiting from new products and services to meet their needs, Alberta’s broader architecture, engineering, and construction industry will also reap the benefits of this important initiative.
“Our shift towards green technologies is both the right thing to do for our environment and the smart thing to do for our economy. This investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada will support good, well-paying jobs in communities across Alberta while helping the province’s construction industry stay on the cutting edge. It will help many small and medium-sized businesses across the province innovate and grow while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and I’m excited to see the difference it will make.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, and Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“Through strong collaboration with our partners, the Government of Alberta continues to look for opportunities to create new jobs. Albertans are builders, and innovators. We’ve been the engine of Canada’s economy because of the fresh ideas that we bring to the table, and this is one more way for us to keep sharing new concepts from our world-class construction and engineering industry with the rest of Canada and the world.”
– Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation
“The technology developed with SSRIA will significantly reduce emissions and support the growth of the building and construction sector in Alberta. The project reimagines buildings themselves as clean tech and will drive transformative work around built environments, creating new opportunities and new markets. This initiative is another compelling example of innovation growing the economy.”
– Laura Kilcrease, CEO, Alberta Innovates
“The operations of our buildings account for 20 per cent of GHG emissions in Canada and as high as two-thirds of emissions in Alberta’s largest cities. Through industry collaboration and innovation, we will develop and disseminate validated solutions to reduce GHG emissions by building higher performing buildings, which in turn provides economic benefits for the engineering and construction industry, building owners and their occupants.”
– Tanya Doran, Chair, Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association (SSRIA)
Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is investing $3 million towards the Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association (SSRIA) to establish a network of test buildings where firms can test new products, technologies, and practices that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The SSRIA is a membership-based organization supported by major construction firms in Alberta, including Stantec, Ledcor and PCL Construction, as well as several Alberta post-secondary institutions and technology incubators.
Alberta’s varied climate provides companies an opportunity to develop a level of expertise in the green building and construction sector that can be exported world-wide. Alberta has other natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and wood in abundance—all of which provide the region with a competitive advantage in developing green building technologies and products that require the use of alternative energies and other natural resources.
Canadian Utilities, an ATCO company, announced it has been awarded $2.8 million in funding from Emission Reductions Alberta’s (ERA) Natural Gas Challenge to advance a first-of-its-kind hydrogen blending project in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. Once complete, the project will be Canada’s largest hydrogen blending project, injecting up to five per cent hydrogen by volume into a section of Fort Saskatchewan’s residential natural gas distribution network, lowering the carbon intensity of the natural gas stream for its customers.
“Affordably decarbonizing the production of heat is vital to achieve our long-term emissions and energy goals, particularly in our cold Canadian climate, and hydrogen can play a powerful role,” said Siegfried Kiefer, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Utilities. “This project is an important first step for Alberta, which has all the ingredients needed to be a leader in the hydrogen economy—including the ability to produce near zero-emissions hydrogen at a lower cost than virtually any other jurisdiction in the world.”
Canadian Utilities’ project will use hydrogen derived from domestically-produced natural gas, with the intent to eventually leverage Alberta’s existing carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure to store emissions associated with the production process. Engaging with customers and the community of Fort Saskatchewan will be integral to the project. Canadian Utilities will work diligently to create awareness about the safety of hydrogen, environmental benefits and the considerable economic potential.
“This project will not only create jobs, but a roadmap for hydrogen in Alberta, using low-cost, responsibly produced natural gas while leveraging the province’s existing investment in carbon capture technology,” said George Lidgett, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Utilities, Canadian Utilities. “Our vision is to enable Western Canada’s world-class natural gas industry to grow in tandem with Alberta’s hydrogen economy, including supplying eventual exports to global markets where demand is steadily growing.”
The Fort Saskatchewan Blending Project is expected to get underway in September with commercial and community activities. Construction is planned to commence begin the first quarter of 2021.
“The City is pleased to be the site of this proposed hydrogen blending project,” said Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur. “This project demonstrates Fort Saskatchewan’s commitment to sustainability and reducing emissions, while supporting our local economy. We look forward to working with ATCO.”
This isn’t ATCO’s first foray into the production, distribution and use of hydrogen. Last year, ATCO officially opened its world-class Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Western Australia. The industry-leading facility is a test bed for hybrid energy solutions and integrates natural gas, solar PV, battery storage and clean hydrogen production. In addition, ATCO is working with Fortescue Metals Group in Australia to explore hydrogen vehicle fuelling infrastructure in Western Australia and has recently been awarded funding by the government of Western Australia to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a commercial scale hydrogen production plant.
Blending hydrogen into the natural gas grid is being safely trialed in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France, with concentrations reaching up 30 to per cent by volume.
With approximately 4,600 employees, assets of $20 billion, and two million customers around the world, Canadian Utilities Limited, an ATCO company, is a diversified global energy infrastructure corporation delivering essential energy services, service excellence and innovative business solutions in Utilities (electricity and natural gas transmission and distribution), Energy Infrastructure (electricity generation, energy storage, and industrial water solutions); and Retail Energy (electricity and natural gas retail sales). More information can be found at www.canadianutilities.com.
FORT SASKATCHEWAN, ALBERTA, (Tuesday, July 21, 2020) – Fort Saskatchewan is pleased to be chosen as the site of ATCO hydrogen blending project, which received $2.8 million in funding from Emission Reductions Alberta’s Natural Gas Challenge.
This first-of-its-kind project in Alberta will enable ATCO to inject up to five percent hydrogen by volume into sections of the residential natural gas distribution network in the City, lowering the carbon intensity of the gas stream for customers.
“This project will not only create jobs, but a roadmap for hydrogen in Alberta, using low-cost, responsibly produced natural gas while leveraging the province’s existing investment in carbon capture technology,” said George Lidgett, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Utilities. “Our vision is to enable Western Canada’s world-class natural gas industry to grow in tandem with Alberta’s hydrogen economy, including supplying eventual exports to global markets where demand is steadily growing.”
ATCO’s project will use hydrogen derived from domestically-produced natural gas, with the intent to eventually leverage Alberta’s existing carbon capture and sequestration infrastructure to store emissions associated with the production process. Engaging with customers and the community of Fort Saskatchewan will be an integral focus of the project. ATCO will work diligently to create an awareness about the safety of hydrogen, environmental benefits and the considerable economic potential.
“The City is pleased to be the site of ATCO’s proposed hydrogen blending project.” Said Mayor Gale Katchur. “This project demonstrates Fort Saskatchewan’s commitment to sustainability and reducing emissions, while supporting our local economy. We look forward to working with ATCO”.
“Affordably decarbonizing the production of heat is vital to achieve our long-term emissions and energy goals, particularly in our cold Canadian climate, and hydrogen can play a powerful role,” said Siegfried Kiefer, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Utilities, an ATCO company. “This project is an important first step for Alberta, which has all the ingredients needed to be a leader in the hydrogen economy—including the ability to produce near zero-emissions hydrogen at a lower cost than virtually any other jurisdiction in the world.”
Blending hydrogen into the natural gas grid is being safely trialed in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and France, with concentrations reaching up 30 to per cent by volume.
The Fort Saskatchewan Blending Project is expected to get underway in September, with construction beginning the first quarter of 2021.
Fort Saskatchewan is a vibrant economic and cultural hub located just 15 minutes northeast of Edmonton on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. Home to more than 26,900 people, the City of Fort Saskatchewan proudly manages state of the art recreation, culture and historic amenities including 75 km of outdoor trails, a performing arts theatre and fitness centre within the Dow Centennial Centre and the 1875 NWMP Fort Representation.
Media contact: Mark Morrissey
Director, Economic Development City of Fort Saskatchewan
Alpin Sun to build 627-acre facility on west-side of airport lands.
July 7, 2020 (Edmonton, AB) – Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is welcoming a new large-scale investment that will create the largest airport-based solar farm in the world.
Airport City Solar will dramatically transform the west-side of EIA’s lands, create jobs and bring in a potential new power source for airport operations and the Edmonton Metro Region. An agreement with Alpin Sun will see the company develop a 627-acre, 120-megawatt solar farm. All available information shows this will be largest development of its kind at an airport anywhere in the world. The new solar farm reflects EIA’s on-going commitment to economic development and diversification, along with its core value of being dedicated to sustainability.
The European-based company, Alpin Sun, is a global developer of utility scale renewable projects and is proposing to locate Airport City Solar on land leased on the west side of the EIA. Airport City Solar is expected to begin construction in early 2022 and be operational by the end of the year. The project will bring in an estimated $169 million in foreign direct investment to the Edmonton Metro Region. Power generated by Airport City Solar will feed into Fortis Alberta and airport distribution systems.
“One of our core principles is being dedicated to sustainability. With Airport City Solar and Alpin Sun we’re creating something the whole world will notice. We’re Canada’s largest airport by land size so we have the space to do something very special – the largest solar farm at an airport in the world. This will create jobs, provide sustainable solar power for our region and shows our dedication to sustainability.”
– Tom Ruth, President and CEO Edmonton International Airport.
Quick facts about Airport City Solar:
Construction will employ 120 workers for a year, with up to 250 workers at its peak
The 120Mwh facility will generate approximately 200,000 MWh per year
Alpin Sun estimates that annual production of 200,000 MWh will result in an annual offset of an estimated 106,000 tonnes of CO2.
Airport City Solar will consist of approximately 340,000 solar panels
The facility will produce enough electricity to power between 27,000-28,000 homes
The facility area of 627 acres will equal roughly 313 CFL football fields
The panels will be constructed in two main groupings
East grouping will be 367 acres that would accommodate 72 MW
West grouping will be 259 acres that would accommodate 48 MW
“It has been a pleasure working with EIA Vice-President Myron Keehn and Director Geoff Herdman to bring this opportunity to the EIA, and their support was key to our location decision.”
– Adrian Ioance, Vice President of Alpin Sun
“We want to add to Alberta’s recovery momentum and be in a position by 2022 to not only support existing industries and communities in the area but also serve as a catalyst for new investment in advanced technology and logistics.”
– Fred Null, Director of Project Development, Alpin Sun
“This fully private-sector investment in the world’s largest airport solar farm will create hundreds of jobs and represents an investment of nearly $170 million. The project, when combined with other recent exciting investments in renewables, shows that Alberta is the most attractive place in Canada to invest, not just in renewable energy, but across all sectors of the economy.”
– Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism
“Leduc County welcomes Alpin-Sun to the region. Within Leduc County, EIA is a regional leader in diversification and innovation. Alpin-Sun will not only bring business diversification, but new development and employment opportunities to Leduc County residents and the region.”
– Tanni Doblanko, Mayor of Leduc County
“This exciting project demonstrates the growing role of solar energy in Alberta’s economy. Private sector investments like this show the strength of Alberta’s solar resource across much of the province, including in and around Edmonton. EIA is demonstrating leadership by harnessing the competitive economics of solar to establish the airport and surrounding transportation corridors as a hub for the solar value chain in this part of North America. This bodes well for jobs and economic benefits in the region well into the future.”
– Benjamin Thibault, Executive Director, Solar Alberta
“EIA runs one of the world’s most innovative airports and in recent years has attracted more than $1 billion in investment and thousands of quality jobs through Airport City and economic diversification. Alpin Sun’s major investment combined with EIA’s focus on innovation will create significant value for airlines. Welcome to our region Alpin Sun, we look forward to seeing this investment begin construction.”
BOMA Best Gold for a corporate facility, The Outstanding Building of the Year, 2016
Over the next year, the Alpin Sun team will conduct extensive studies and seek approvals from the required local, provincial and federal regulatory agencies, including NAV Canada. Field Law of Edmonton assists Alpin Sun on legal matters related to this project and others in Alberta, and DNV-GL of Calgary assists on environmental studies and permitting. Colliers International – Edmonton’s YEG Team, led by Evelyn Stolk & Rod Connop as well as Colliers International – Philadelphia brokered this transaction.
About Edmonton International Airport
Edmonton International Airport is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive economic prosperity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic and the largest major Canadian airport by land area. EIA offers non-stop connections to destinations across Canada, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. EIA is a major economic driver; in 2019, EIA had an economic output of more than $3.2 billion, supporting over 26,000 jobs. EIA’s Airport City propels new jobs, tourism and economic diversification – and creates a destination in and around EIA, featuring entertainment, e-commerce, retail, hospitality, cargo/logistics, bio-pharma, light manufacturing and many other industries. EIA is focused on digital strategy to ensure it becomes the airport of the future. For more information, please visit: flyeia.com, follow @flyeia on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin or Facebook.
About Alpin Sun
Alpin Sun is a European based renewable energy company active in the development, construction, operation, and ownership of solar projects across the globe. During its 10-year history, the company has been involved in four gigawatts of solar projects in Europe, Chile, Canada, and the USA.
Alpin Sun performs engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) work in Europe and focuses on project development in the USA and Canada. The North American portfolio, to date, comprises three gigawatt of solar sites spread among the electric service territories of ERCOT (Texas), SPP (Texas), PJM (mid-Atlantic USA), and AESO (Alberta) with more than one gigawatt currently under construction or in preparation for construction.
Alpin Sun’s development pipeline serves as an investment platform for institutional investors, independent power producers (non-utility generators), and utilities by providing high-quality projects designed with state-of-the-art technology for top economic performance.
Today, Edmonton Global launched a video series entitled “Meet our Leaders” highlighting businesses in key sectors that are primed for growth and investment across the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
The series shares examples of industry leaders who continue to leverage the unique benefits of doing business in the region. “These videos are part of raising the profile and building awareness of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region among international investors and companies from around the world who are looking to expand,” said Malcolm Bruce, CEO of Edmonton Global. “We all need to share the message that our region is young, educated, and growing. And our Northern location… it’s a strategic advantage. The stories of innovation and success that already exist here are inspiring and will help define the narrative of this great region.”
The series focuses on leaders in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region who have found success in the following sectors:
AI & Tech
Health & Life Sciences
Manufacturing & Advanced Manufacturing
Food & Agriculture
Energy & Clean Tech
“We want to showcase who we are and what’s happening across the Edmonton Metropolitan Region in a way that causes people to stand up and pay attention to what’s happening right here, right now,” continued Malcolm. “It’s industry leaders like these that are helping define the narrative of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. We have a compelling story to share with the world and now is the time to come together and advance this message.”
When last we saw them, the University of Alberta’s EcoCar team was preparing to leave for the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Sonoma, California from April 3-6, 2019. Now they have returned – victorious. The team took first place on the track in the prototype-hydrogen category, achieving the energy equivalence of 1895 MPG (US) to earn the competition’s efficiency award. They also won the Fuel Cell Vehicle Innovation Prize.
The team had an auspicious start to the competition.
“We swept through the initial technical inspection,” says Carter Trautman, the EcoCar Team’s project manager. “And because we passed that we had time for a few test runs before the competition.”
The test runs helped the team identify issues with the car, the biggest one being that it was too slow.
“We were 13 seconds slow on each lap, so that’s a lot of time,” says Trautmann.
The team set to work to address the issue with minor modifications, like inflating the tires to be ready for the first day of competition.
With these minor modifications they took their first run on Friday and they were still slow. The team’s efforts were frustrated further when their second run was rained out. The team’s last runs of the day were still slow and marred by steering trouble, so they spent that night conditioning the fuel cell and making minor modifications to the engine.
“The whole team was amazing,” says Trautmann. “We had so many technical issues and people were consistently excited to get in there and see what they could do. It was amazing to see.”
The night’s work proved worthwhile and the team’s driver, Erin Whitby, who will be the team’s fuel cell lead next year, skimmed 15-20 seconds off their lap times.
“We were just so happy to be finishing the course,” says Trautmann.
“But then on the last run of the day, we found out we were the most efficient,” adds Elizabeth Gierl, the team’s fuel cell co-lead. “Which was the icing on the cake.”
The team was also awarded the Marathon’s award for most innovative hydrogen fuel cell vehicle team with new members.
The team celebrated their successes with a quiet dinner at a Mexican restaurant that night.
“We were all so drained from the ups and downs of the competition,” says Gierl. “And we all had to fly home the next morning, so it was a quiet, early night.”
Returning to Edmonton, team members had to immediately focus on wrapping up course work and preparing for final exams.
“I slept for 13 hours my first night back,” says Trautmann. “But I’ve been really busy since then.”
The car will return to Edmonton on April 15 but the team will set it aside and begin to develop a new car to enter in the Marathon’s “urban concept” category, rather than the prototype category they entered this year. The team is also looking forward to finally using a fuel cell they have had in development for over two years.
“We’ve been developing this fuel cell with Dr. Secanell-Gallart’s lab and it is nearly ready to go,” says Gierl.
A massive field of solar panels could be erected on top of contaminated land in southeast Calgary if a proposed renewable energy project is approved by city council.
Ireland-based DP Energy has set its sights on 63 hectares of land in Shepard Industrial Park for a solar farm project that, if approved, would become the largest such facility in Western Canada.
More than 1,500 panels, generating an anticipated 25 megawatts of renewable power, are proposed for the former industrial site adjacent to Barlow Trail S.E., between 114th Avenue and 106th Avenue S.E.
The value of the proposed project is estimated between $40 million and $50 million.
The site east of Quarry Park, owned by Viterra, was formerly a fertilizer production facility that was capped within the past 10 years and is no longer in use.
Coun. Shane Keating, whose ward would be home to the proposed project, said a solar farm is a “perfect” use for the brownfield site.
“This site has been used for the production of fertilizer for decades. It’s similar to a closed landfill — because of the possibility of what’s in the ground, you can’t start developing on it,” Keating said.
“So we’re using land that would not really produce any benefit to the city and now we’re putting something on there that gives not only the benefit of renewable energy, but it gives a revenue stream to the city as far as taxes.”
The privately funded project received the unanimous approval of the Calgary planning commission on Thursday, though it will have to go to a full vote of council for final approval.
Representatives from DP Energy were in attendance at the meeting Thursday. One representative confirmed that there would be local jobs associated with construction of the facility and ongoing maintenance, but declined to comment further.
The solar farm would sell electricity to the power grid, with the ability to power up to 4,000 homes. Once built, it would usurp the Brooks solar plant as the largest solar facility in Western Canada.
Construction could potentially begin this year if the project is approved by council following a public hearing in March.
“(Solar technology) has progressed significantly in the last 10 years or so, and the costs are coming down and it’s becoming a lot more viable,” said Angie Dean, a senior planner with the city. “I think we’re going to see a lot more projects like this in the future, this just happens to be the first one.”
Several members of the planning commission urged the city to try to replicate the project on other “challenging” pieces of land around the city.
“There are very few options for putting unremediated land into active economic use, and personally I cannot think of a better way with such low impact and with such high societal benefit,” said commissioner Paul Gedye. “I hope this is a runaway success.”
Coun. Evan Woolley said there are also intangible benefits from having a large-scale solar project within city boundaries, with the possibility of students benefiting from private-public partnerships.
“I think universities are looking at this,” Woolley said. “There’s a lot of learnings we can take out of this.”
The Alberta government is supporting Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Mikisew Cree First Nation and Métis Local 125 in owning and operating a new solar farm that will reduce their reliance on diesel generators.
Fort Chipewyan is not connected to Alberta’s electricity grid and relies on burning diesel fuel for heat and power. To reduce diesel use in the northern community, the nations formed Three Nations Energy LP (3NE). With a $3.3-million grant from Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan and in partnership with ATCO, 3NE will own and operate the largest off-grid solar-and-storage project in Canada.
“We are very proud to partner with Three Nations Energy and the community of Fort Chipewyan,” stated Alberta Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan.
“In addition to reducing costs, this project helps make life better for residents by reducing pollution and increasing safety. This is just one of the many steps on the path of reconciliation our government is taking by empowering Indigenous peoples to own, develop and operate this project.”
The solar photovoltaic system will consist of about 7,500 panels that, once completed, will replace the equivalent of 800,000 litres of diesel fuel for Fort Chipewyan – supplying roughly 25 per cent of the community’s energy use. It is anticipated that Fort Chipewyan will start generating solar energy in fall 2020.
“By harnessing Alberta’s abundant solar resources, we can ensure northern communities no longer need to rely on diesel to heat and power their homes,” remarked Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment of Parks and Minister responsible for Climate Change.
“This project is the largest in Canadian history to reduce diesel emissions by moving to solar power and storage. More importantly, it shows what can be accomplished when we work together to protect our environment.”
The project will also reduce noise pollution in the area and make the winter roads safer due to reduced tanker truck traffic.
“While our regional economy depends on the oil industry, we feel the effects of climate change in our community and see the growing impacts on our delta lands,” explained Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam. “Our members want us to be part of the solution and we appreciate Alberta working with us to take a big step forward to cut pollution and protect the environment.”
Calvin Waquan, Councillor Mikisew Cree First Nation added, “The Three Nations Energy solar farm project showcases our community’s shared vision of achieving energy sovereignty and becoming a leader in creating a climate-friendly economy. 3NE will work as one to build capacity and implement other projects in energy efficiency and green energy.”
“Three Nations Energy is about Indigenous Peoples working in partnership and collaborating with governments and private industry to protect the environment,” noted Kelly Piche, Fort Chipewyan Metis Local 125. “Our solar farm will create local employment, increase our energy security and, over time, it can generate revenues to reinvest in our community.”
ATCO is working closely with 3NE, supplying design, construction and operation services as well as ensuring local employment benefits. ATCO will also operate a complementary battery storage system that can store 1.5 MWh of power, extending the ability of the solar farm to replace diesel.
“ATCO is honoured and thrilled to partner with the community of Fort Chipewyan to implement an innovative clean energy microgrid solution,” stated ATCO Vice President Quyen Nguyen. “ATCO will build and operate the solar array and battery storage, significantly reducing diesel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs and building capacity for community ownership of the solar farm.”
The project will be completed in a phased approach. ATCO is installing a Phase 1 component of 400 kW (about 1,500 panels) this winter which ATCO will own, reducing diesel consumption by 150,000 litres per year.
3NE, supported by funding from the Government of Alberta, will own Phase 2, consisting of another 2,200 kW from 6,000 panels, which will reduce diesel consumption by an additional 650,000 litres per year.
The solar farm will have a generation capacity of 2.6 MW (2,600 kW) and an energy production of 3,200 MWh/year once Phase 2 is complete.
Construction will create 40 jobs at the 6.5-hectare site adjacent to Third Lake Plant. The reduction in tanker trucks is roughly 25 large tanker truck trips each way, per year. The project will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2,170 tonnes CO2e per year. The total project cost for the solar farm is $7.8 million, including the $3.3-million commitment from the Government of Alberta.
(Edmonton) Researchers across the province were awarded $20.5 million in funding today to support clean energy technology development.
A total of 29 projects in post-secondary and industry received the funding through Alberta Innovates, as part of its Climate Change Innovation Technology Framework. Of the 29, 15 University of Alberta applicants for funding were successful. Of those, 11 grants were awarded to Faculty of Engineering researchers.
One project, led by chemical engineering professor Dominic Sauvageau, is using bacteria to eat methane—a potent greenhouse gas—and convert it into cleaner sources of biofuel.
Sauvageau says a group of bacteria called methanotrophs use methane and methanol as food, converting them into compounds that can be used in the production of biofuels and fuel additives.
One part of the challenge is breeding populations of these bacteria large enough to produce these compounds at a commercial scale.
“These bacteria are found in environment as low-density populations,” says Sauvageau. “They grow slowly and they produce some compounds naturally, but of course they haven’t evolved to be used commercially. We have to help them on that side.”
Sauvageau, in partnership with Faculty of Science professor Lisa Stein and chemical engineering professor William McCaffrey, is approaching the problem from two directions.
“We need to be able to make a lot of these bacteria, and they need to make a lot of the product at a rate that is fast enough that we have a process that is economically viable,” he said.
“We’re looking for ways to make conditions more amenable for these cells to be more productive and on the other side, we’re working on the genetics so we can have them produce a wider array of valuable compounds.”
The impact of this research could be significant. Sauvageau imagines having bioreactors on site at wastewater treatment plants, pulp and paper mills, landfills, and other facilities that emit methane and methanol.
If successful, a common waste byproduct—methane—could be turned into a profitable product. The outcome would be reduced greenhouse gas emissions and production of compounds for use as fuel additives, in the production of advanced biofuels, and in bio jet fuels.
Another engineering project, run by mechanical engineering professor Sonoj Abraham, is leading the way to develop nano-particle coatings to improve energy efficiency of windows. Abraham’s team is developing coatings that will improve the performance of windows without costly retrofitting.
“The impact of this funding is that it helps us demonstrate this technology,” he said, adding that his team is in talks with the university to apply the coating to windows in two U of A buildings.
Alberta Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous said the fund helps advance Alberta as a centre for energy technology.
“When people think of energy, we want them to think of Alberta,” he said. “We want them to hire our talented, brilliant engineers and scientists.”