Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to better measure and locate methane emissions, and prototyping new approaches to convert natural gas to hydrogen, are two of 20 technology innovations that will receive funding from the Government of Alberta through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA).
Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, and Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity, Dale Nally, announced the finalists of the Natural Gas Challenge with ERA CEO, Steve MacDonald, on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, at the opening of the Maximizing Funding Potential Workshop, presented by ERA and Alberta Innovates.
ERA is committing $58.4 million for 20 projects worth $155 million. Funding for ERA’s challenges comes from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.
“Today’s announcement by the Government of Alberta supports investment attraction, job creation, and economic growth. Some projects will have an immediate impact by improving the performance of the natural gas sector’s existing operations and others are accelerating transformative opportunities, like hydrogen production, that can change the face of the industry.”
Steve MacDonald, CEO, ERA
The Natural Gas Challenge was launched in October 2019 and was open to projects involving technologies at the pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial deployment stages. ERA’s selection committee reviewed 117 submissions and of these, twenty projects were selected based on their potential to unlock innovation across Alberta’s natural gas value chain, from production to the end consumer.
Projects announced include:
Methane Imaging Solution for Continuous Leak Detection and Quantification for Tank Emissions and Facility MonitoringTotal project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000Permanent installation and demonstration of an infrared camera at 100 well sites to provide continuous leak detection and quantification for tank emissions and facility monitoring.
Emissions Reductions Through Artificial IntelligenceTotal project value: $16,200,000 | ERA commitment: $4,000,000Deployment of an industrial device designed to collect large quantities of data to use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to better quantify, locate, and classify emissions.
UCalgary-Canadian Natural Fugitive Emissions Pilot Study: Field-Scale Deployment and Acceleration of Made-In-Alberta Technology for Fugitive Emissions Detection and ReductionTotal project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000Full-scale, field pilot of a new vehicle-based technology designed for equipment-level emissions screening to support effective regulatory leak detection and repair.
Canadian Natural Fugitive Emissions Study Using Aerial Detection TechnologyTotal project value: $1,900,000 | ERA commitment: $927,000Pilot project of both aerial screening technology and ground-based detection at conventional oil and gas facilities to validate technology performance and inform a broader Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (FEMP).
Multi Component Downhole Injection SystemTotal project value: $2,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,000,000Development, testing, and validation of a multicomponent downhole injection system that uses epoxy resins to rapidly seal leaking oil and gas wells and eliminate surface casing vent flow.
Affordable Zero-Emission Fail-Safe Electric Dump Valve Actuator (EDVA) Phase 2Total project value: $2,200,000| ERA commitment: $550,000Applied research, prototype design and development, and field pilot testing of an electrically-driven valve actuator that is more compact, powerful, and lower maintenance than alternative pneumatic options.
Kinitics Valve Actuator for Gas ProducersTotal project value: $1,100,000 | ERA commitment: $552,000Testing a novel electric actuator at 15 well sites in Alberta to validate the technology as a cost effective, technically viable alternative to eliminate venting from established pneumatic devices.
Unlocking EPOD Economic Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Retrofit SolutionTotal project value: $4,000,000 | ERA commitment: $1,300,000Demonstration of a solar-hybrid power generation system for remote well sites to provide reliable electricity to prevent gas venting from pneumatic devices in a cost-effective manner.
Demonstration of a Full-Scale Multilateral Junction AssemblyTotal project value: $12,100,000 | ERA commitment: $3,500,000Full-scale deployment of a multilateral junction tool assembly that will allow natural gas operators to drill, complete, and operate multibranched wells for unconventional reservoirs. The technology reduces emissions by enabling lateral junctions rather than requiring separate wells.
Natural Gas Mobile Unit for Drilling Rig Power GenerationTotal project value: $7,989,000 | ERA commitment: $3,200,000Pilot demonstration of a plug and play, mobile power generation system for drilling rigs that uses smart energy to automatically start and stop generators to match the power demand of the rig.
Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen BlendingTotal project value: $5,700,000 | ERA commitment: $2,800,000Pilot project to test hydrogen blending in ATCO’s Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.
Development and Field Testing of a Tri-Generation Pyrolysis (TGP) System for Low-cost, Clean Hydrogen ProductionTotal project value: $13,800,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000Prototyping a new approach to converting natural gas to hydrogen and a solid carbon by-product representing a new pathway to produce zero-emissions hydrogen, electricity, and other products by decarbonizing natural gas.
A New Wave in Hydrogen ProductionTotal project value: $8,200,000 | ERA commitment: $3,000,000Design optimization, system integration, pilot demonstration, techno-economic analysis, and advancement of commercial deployment plans for a technology system to decarbonize natural gas.
ATCO and Future Fuel RNGTotal project value: $15,900,000 | ERA commitment: $7,900,000First-of-its-kind commercial demonstration to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) to be sold and used within the province in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet vehicles and commercial applications.
Co-Locating Natural Gas and Indoor Agriculture for Alberta’s FutureTotal project value: $17,862,298 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000Design, construction, and operation for a first-of-kind commercial deployment of a modular farming system that combines automation, hydroponics, adsorption cooling, and advanced lighting to grow crops.
Greenest Natural Gas-Powered Quad-generation with a 41% GHG ReductionTotal project value: $3,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000Technology that uses natural gas to generate electricity, cooling, and heating in an integrated package for multiple applications, including industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential sectors.
Demonstration of Thermally Driven Heat Pumps for Residential Heating ApplicationsTotal project value: $1,972,510 | ERA commitment: $986,250Design and prototyping of technology that uses natural gas to drive a heat pump cycle. Unlike electrically-driven heat pumps, the technology is ideal for cold climates.
Turboexpander ProjectTotal project value: $6,200,000 | ERA commitment: $2,400,000Installation and operation of technology that provides clean, distributed electricity from the pressure and flow of natural gas without combustion.
Advanced Dual-Fuel System Commercial DemonstrationTotal project value: $2,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,200,000Commercial validation of technology that allows heavy duty truck engines to displace up to 50 per cent of their diesel with cleaner burning natural gas.
Converting Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural GasTotal project value: $25,000,000 | ERA commitment: $10,000,000The project will explore opportunities to upgrade landfill gas (LFG) at Clover Bar Landfill and inject it into Alberta’s natural gas system as renewable natural gas (RNG). Stakeholders in the Clover Bar Landfill, the City of Edmonton and Capital Power, are exploring these possible opportunities.
If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030—equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. It is anticipated these projects will also deliver approximately 760 new jobs.
Projects were selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification conducted an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor.
All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. All projects involve field piloting, demonstration, or commercial deployment of technology within the province.
“ERA funding is critical to the transformative jump from pilot to market-ready innovation. SWR is unique in that it is a novel application based on well-understood, existing components. This allows us to move quickly from lab to market entry in Canada. With ERA’s funding and partners, together, we can make a substantial near-term difference in global decarbonization.”
Kathleen O’Neil, CEO, Standing Wave Reformers, Inc.
“We’re very pleased to have the support of ERA in the final steps of commercial validation of our technology. Working with ERA and Westcan will help us showcase our technology’s ability to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the heavy-duty trucking industry, while also allowing the industry to significantly cut fuel costs.”
Leland Oberst, President and Chief Executive Officer, Innovative Fuel Systems
“Working with our industry partners, Kinitics plans to demonstrate the company’s shape memory alloy-based electric actuators as a viable alternative to methane-venting pneumatic actuators at production well sites. ERA’s contribution will allow us to raise awareness of the technology in the industry, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and potentially eliminate methane-venting devices entirely in Western Canada.”
Dean Pick, President, Kinitics Automation
“Our primary product, EPOD, has proven itself as a great solution for new well sites. However, we believe the real opportunity for Alberta lies in addressing its thousands of existing well sites. Funding from ERA will enable us to demonstrate an economically attractive instrument air retrofit solution. We believe this has potential to create a step change in the environmental performance of our industry.”
Connor O’Shea, President, Westgen Technologies Inc.
“At MultiSensor, we have been developing a cost-effective methane monitoring Internet of Things solution since 2016. ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge funding is material for us to commercially demonstrate our cloud-connected cameras in the field at scale. Our automated remote monitoring solution will enable Alberta’s oil and gas industry to focus leak detection and reduction efforts on where it delivers the biggest reductions—identifying, quantifying, and repairing leaks and vents as they occur.”
Stefan Bokaemper, President, MultiSensor Canada, Inc.
“ERA funding is a stepping-stone to translate our vehicle-based emissions screening system into a scalable commercial solution that helps industry lower and monitor methane emissions more efficiently and cost-effectively. We will undertake a full-scale field pilot over two years with our industry partner using a fleet of vehicles to survey thousands of facilities, while collecting additional emissions measurements from public roads across most operating areas of Alberta.”
Dr. Chris Hugenholtz, Associate Professor & Parex Innovation Fellow, University of Calgary
“The funding provided by ERA is key to commercialization of the LMT EDVA, a technology project that will not only enable cleaner oil and gas production to achieve Canada’s methane emissions reduction targets, it may also help revive our struggling oil and gas and cleantech sectors.”
Soheil Asgarpour, President, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
“We are actively exploring innovative technologies that can improve the efficiency and sustainability of our operations. The funding received from ERA will enable us to implement a natural gas mobile power generation unit, contributing to Tourmaline’s diesel displacement initiative and reducing fuel costs and GHG emissions.”
Earl McKinnon, Vice President, Operations, Tourmaline Oil Corp.
“Challenger is an Alberta-based service company with a solution for oil and gas wells that leak carbon emissions into the atmosphere. At Challenger, we are grateful to have a home province that not only welcomes innovation, but actively supports it. ERA’s funding will be critical in bringing our technology to market and allow us to advance rollout to other jurisdictions seeking to control fugitive GHG emissions.”
Colton Hoffman, President, Challenger Technical Service
To help streamline the application process, ERA collaborated with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF)to leverage funding opportunities beyond ERA’s scope through NGIF’s $3 million Cleantech Competition. NGIF announced its semi-finalists on June 23, 2020. Three of ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge winners—Kinitics Automation, Westgen Technologies Inc., and Challenger Technical Services—were announced as shortlisted for NGIF’s funding competition.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:Emissions Reduction AlbertaKevin Duncan403.431.2859 | firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT EMISSIONS REDUCTION ALBERTA (ERA):For more than 10 years, ERA has been investing the revenues from the carbon price paid by large final emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since ERA was established in 2009, they have committed $534 million toward 161 projects worth $4 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative reductions of 32.9 million tonnes of CO₂e by 2030.