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Opinion: Edmonton region poised to capitalize on the hydrogen economy

A hydrogen manufacturing unit at the Scotford Shell site, near Fort Saskatchewan. File photo PHOTO BY RICK MACWILLIAM/Postmedia

On Wednesday, April 14, the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub was launched, backed by over $2 million in funding from three orders of government. This is an exciting first step in the establishment of Canada’s first hydrogen hub. As the economic development organization for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, Edmonton Global welcomes the news of this launch, are extremely proud to partner in its activities, and are excited to see the impacts that this will have on the acceleration of the hydrogen economy for our region and beyond.

The global race to export hydrogen is on and right now we have some advantages, but we can’t assume that these will last forever. That’s why we’re encouraged by this launch. We are coming together as a region to take a proactive and strategic approach to capitalize on this opportunity and move aggressively forward.

We know that for Canada and the world to meet our climate and greenhouse gas reduction targets, hydrogen must be part of the solution. And it must be produced in ways that dramatically reduce the carbon intensity. This is where our region has a significant and global advantage. We have the technologies, talent, and abundance ofnatural gas combined with proven carbon capture and storage that allows us to produce near-zero emissions hydrogen and we’re one of the lowest-cost producers in the world. A global hydrogen economy will flourish once there is adequate demand matched with an abundance of low-cost and low-emissions hydrogen — simply put, the economics need to work and right now, the Edmonton region has what’s needed to check all the right boxes.

The economic benefits that the hydrogen economy could bring to our region are truly transformative. Make no mistake, the opportunity is massive — Canadian hydrogen has a national and international wholesale market of up to $100 billion a year.

Even beyond the production and export of hydrogen and the creation of good quality, clean energy jobs, the hydrogen economy will bring significant opportunities to our region. The establishment of a hub can and will attract OEM and energy tech companies to the region — and more. The economic spin-off potential can’t be overstated. From tech start-ups to fuel cells, service companies to innovation labs, power generation to the infrastructure needed to export, and the finance and capital markets needed to bankroll these projects — it’s critical that we are paying attention to the bigger picture to ensure that we capitalize on all aspects of this opportunity. If the hydrogen economy will eventually result in hundreds of billions of immediate and spin-off benefits, we want as much of that as is possible, to be centred right here in the Edmonton metropolitan region.

When we look at how the oil and gas sector played out in our region, we can learn a few things. While significant investments were made into our region, we failed to capture a lot of the value-added benefits of this industry. This time around, it’s critical that we embrace a bold vision — one that would realize the radical transformation of our regional economy.

We must anchor this opportunity within a long-term plan to support economic development and investment attraction across our regional economy. That’s why the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub has been embedded into an economic development framework. It’s an incredibly competitive world when it comes to investment attraction and we must play to our strengths. Beyond being among the world’s least expensive producers of low-carbon hydrogen — we have a high quality of life, diverse and highly skilled talent, expertise in artificial intelligence, strong logistics and supply chains, and access to global markets. With focus and collaboration across our region, we can compete to win on the global stage.

Through this launch and the bringing together of key regional partners, we have the potential to accelerate the impacts that hydrogen can bring to our region, to Alberta, and to all of Canada —we’re excited to get started.

Event highlights – The California market for hydrogen

Understanding international demand for Alberta hydrogen exports


As the world transitions to renewable energy sources, hydrogen will play an integral role in Canada’s and the world’s transition to a low carbon economy. As such, hydrogen represents a significant economic opportunity for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region and the province of Alberta. The race to export hydrogen is on and our region holds some unique advantages and is well suited to become Canada’s first hydrogen node. The Edmonton region is one of the lowest cost places in the world to make low-carbon hydrogen and we have the expertise, talent, infrastructure and resources (low-cost natural gas and the ability to safely store CO2) in our region to accelerate the launch of the hydrogen economy – but these advantages won’t last forever. That’s why Edmonton Global, together with our partner Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, are hosting a series of online workshops aimed at exploring the export market in key regions including:

  • Japan
  • California
  • China
  • South Korea

The workshop exploring the California market took place on March 25, 2021. It included some great insights from key stakeholders from both the public and private sector about California’s emerging hydrogen market.  Panelists from the California Governor’s office, the California Energy Commission, and the California Hydrogen Business Council spoke about California’s ambitious targets for shifting to zero emission fuels over the coming 25 years, and how hydrogen will play an important role in this shift.  Some of the key points raised during the workshop included:

  • Don’t get confused by the colors.  California’s expectations around low cost, low carbon fuels include hydrogen derived from natural gas that makes use of carbon capture and storage technology.  California also has an established emission credit system that is part of their process for advancing low carbon fuels.
  • The transportation sector is a large focus for California, but power generation is an opportunity they are beginning to look at
  • The California regulators will evolve as required if presented with a compelling case for low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen supply—in particular, the requirements for “renewable” electricity mix on the grid, and “renewable” hydrogen content at the fueling stations.  They currently have subjective categories but anticipate moving to objective requirements such as carbon intensity.
  • California has a rapidly growing hydrogen market and there will be advantages associated with having a diverse energy portfolio including a range of hydrogen suppliers from multiple jurisdictions, including Canada.
  • Decisions on how to meet the state’s demand will be driven by the market, including the how hydrogen will be transported (rail, pipelines, ships) and its form (eg. liquified hydrogen, ammonia, methanol).
  • Current gaps include the installation of hydrogen transport and distribution infrastructure and it will be important to work on this concurrently as hydrogen production and demand increases.
  • Scale is a huge factor in delivered costs.  They were projecting cost equivalency to retail gasoline in the next 5-10 years and a recent Executive Order (N-79-20) is expected to speed that up.
  • California is eager to share research results and best practices associated with the development of standards, including the blending of hydrogen into natural gas distribution systems.  Stakeholders within the Edmonton Region Hydrogen Hub are working hard to advance similar opportunity areas and there is value in connecting with the California Energy Commission process to learn more.

Maggie Hanna the President of Common Ground Energy Corporation and Fellow at the Energy Futures Lab attended the event and said, “The three presenters at this workshop are clearly the key people that Alberta needs to be talking to in order to further explore how to capitalize on the California market. Blending projects, in particular, look like they will create opportunities for Alberta hydrogen. If Alberta were to supply a maximum of 15-20% blended hydrogen into their existing natural gas exports, aimed at the California power grid, that would take them a significant way towards their decarbonization goals. It would also be pipeline friendly at less than 20% hythane.”

You can watch a recording of the workshop here:

 

The next workshop in this series, which will take place on April 15, 2021, will explore the Korean market for hydrogen.

New tech converts waste into clean energy

Clean Energy Technology by Stamped Engineering Clean Energy Technology by Stamped Engineering

 

 

Stamped Engineering has developed a clean energy technology that converts organic waste into useable a clean energy source in three forms:

  • Liquid biofuel – which can be customized to suit the end user’s needs
  • Electricity
  • Electricity and heat

Their technology, which is currently patent pending, is fully customized to the end user’s needs and is completely adaptive to the type of organic waste used. This means that the technology has no identified limitations on the type of organic waste inputs that can be used and would provide solutions for a wide variety of clean energy applications.

A pivot to building innovation

Stamped Engineering has developed technology that converts organic waste into clean energy

 Stamped Engineering is a consultancy firm that specializes in design engineering customized to the needs of their clients. Like many consultancies, they experienced a bit of a slowdown in the number of contracts that they were taking on during the pandemic. They decided to pivot and threw the bulk of their effort and resources behind refining their technology for their Organic Waste to Clean Energy innovation.

“We weren’t content to play a passive role when it comes to business development,” said Jeenu Riat, CEO and president of Stamped Engineering. “We had been working on the idea behind using organic waste to produce clean energy for a while. This just gave us the opportunity to accelerate those plans and refine this technology that will help solve a global challenge.”

Organic waste a major contributor to GHGs

 Many people may not realize that emissions from Canadian landfills account for 20% of national methane emissions. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming potential. While landfill gas recovery is one method currently being used to deal with the organic materials already in landfills – it’s far from perfect. More than half of all emissions generated in landfills in Canada are still entering the atmosphere. That’s why it’s critical that we find ways to divert organic materials such as food and yard waste from landfills – and Stamped’s technology does just that.

“This technology solves a number of problems,” said Jeenu. “We’re able to produce clean energy out of what is essentially a free product. This waste is just sitting in our landfills – and it’s important to remember that it’s not innocuous – it’s actually releasing a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. We’re able to convert this ‘resource’ into a clean energy source with really low emissions. And we’re confident, that with the right funding we can get to a zero-emission product. Our technology is infinitely scalable and adaptable for our clients.”

Environmental impact

 Jeenu sees a lot of benefits in partnering with municipalities to support both their individual waste strategies and their goals around developing environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. And she’s on to something, from an investment attraction perspective. ESG is steadily growing in importance within the international investment community. By building in processes and technologies that reduce GHGs and embrace clean energy sources, there’s an opportunity for cities to play a leading role in the transition to net-zero.

To get an idea of the potential impact of this technology, Jeenu points to a couple of stats:

  • A town with a population of 10,000 generates an average of 2.3 million pounds of food waste in a year. If Stamped’s technology converted this food waste into clean energy they could supply enough energy to power 1600 computers for a full year’s worth of working hours. And remember, this is just food waste.
  • You can also look at the potential from a national perspective – Canadians generate over 8.6 billion pounds of food waste per year. If this food waste was converted into energy, it would generate enough power to power more than 80,000 homes or 265,957 electric vehicles for an entire year.

For both of these examples, the number is even higher if we consider all organic waste generated and not just food waste.

Patents have been filed for the technology in both Canada and the US, and the Stamped team has plans to do the same for the European market. According to Jeenu, there are currently no similar patents filed in North America.

Jeenu Riat, CEO, Stamped Engineering

Building a clean tech innovation hub

 Much of Jeenu’s career has been spent in both the aerospace and energy sector and she understands from experience the need to invest in clean energy solutions.

“I see Stamped as an innovation hub for a variety of industries and am excited to include clean technology in our portfolio,” said Jeenu. “We’ve got a phenomenal team who are united around a common goal of providing the solutions that our clients are looking for. ESG policies are growing in importance – both to governments and businesses. With this technology, we can provide solutions from start to finish. From collecting the waste to converting it into a usable end product and then delivering it to the end-user – we’re ready to do it all.”

Stamped’s business model is different than most consultancy firms. While the majority of the team are full-time employees of Stamped, Jeenu purposefully built the company structure to include a network of expert consultants from a broad range of backgrounds. They’re able to provide niche services on topics where they are the experts in their fields. This network of experts, combined with their in-house team of experienced engineers, technologists and project support staff, allows Stamped to build a customized team that suits the needs of each client and each project.

“We have consultants who have over 50 years of experience and are world-renowned experts,” said Jeenu. “That’s certainly an advantage for us – and it helps to accelerate and encourage innovation within our own team.”

Jeenu points to one example where her firm was contracted by a large energy company with over 70,000 employees.

“They came to us with a problem that they were trying to solve for three years,” explains Jeenu. “In just three weeks, we built them a solution that provided the safety and assessment assurance that they needed in order to proceed.”

Applying their unique and innovative approach and business model helps Stamped analyse and solve their clients’ complex challenges quickly.  With their clean energy technology, they applied their client model to their own technology with incredible results.

Talent is key to innovation

 Talent is a key factor when it comes to driving innovation. So too, is breaking down barriers for innovators, by providing the support that industry needs to bring their ideas to market. Beyond their own proprietary technology, Stamped provides support to clients with securing patents – and they’re helping to solve challenges around design constraints, parameters and safety regulations – a common problem that innovators face when they are working to commercialize their ideas.

The Stamped team has worked with organizations from all over the world, including the Middle East, Europe and the US. Though there is potential to expand, Jeenu believes that the Edmonton region is the absolute best place for her company to be headquartered.

“I love the Edmonton region,” says Jeenu. “It’s where I started my career and where I always wanted to come back to. And on a really practical level, the access to talent we have here is second to none. The expertise here represents a broad range of industries and the quantity and quality of talent coming out of the post-secondary institutions means we have some of the world’s brightest minds right here – ready to provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.”

Learn more about technology and innovation in the Edmonton Region.

New Solar manufacturer to set up at EIA

WeFaces Technology Inc. to develop and manufacture advanced solar products at Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre

An example of the solar-powered LED lighting WeFaces plans to manufacture

Asia-based solar LED manufacturer WeFaces Technology Inc. will build its new North American headquarters within the sustainability campus at Edmonton International Airport’s growing Airport City. The new facility bolsters the airport’s commitment to energy diversification and job creation.

EIA has entered a strategic partnership to help WeFaces begin research and development as well as the mass production of advanced solar panel lighting systems. WeFaces will set up offices as well as a product showcase area at EIA by fall 2021 and immediately begin research and development work. By 2022 the company will begin manufacturing Canadian made solar lighting products for international export from the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. This private partnership will generate long-term jobs, drive advanced solar panel manufacturing opportunities, diversify and grow Alberta’s economy.

“We’re committed to helping grow Alberta’s economy with strategic partners such as WeFaces Technology. This is a long-term approach to creating jobs and attracting investment to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our focus on innovation and technology developments, along with transportation partners, tourism and entertainment are making Airport City a major place to do business and invest in this region.”
– Tom Ruth, EIA President and CEO

“Collaboration with EIA will enable us to quickly develop our solar energy and intelligent control technologies and expand in the global market.”
– Vilens Lin, CEO of “WeFaces Technology Inc. & Vilens Group Co. Ltd.

By locating at Airport City, WeFaces will tap into other opportunities made possible by partners such as Edmonton Global and other businesses who use the existing Foreign Trade Zone. In addition to its air cargo services, Airport City offers close access to rail transportation and the North American CANAMEX highway corridor. This helps both for supply chain imports and exports. WeFaces will also join the EIA-sponsored Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre, a business and technology incubator located in Airport City, to participate in industry partnerships around solar technology.

“On behalf of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, we are excited to welcome WeFaces Technology Inc. to our community. The combination of WeFaces Technology Inc.’s North American Head Office and major solar and lighting manufacturing facility will have a significant impact on our regional economy. We worked closely with EIA on attracting this important investment. EIA is becoming known as Canada’s Innovation Airport in part due to their innovative approach to attracting international investment and businesses to our region – well done!”
-Malcolm Bruce, CEO Edmonton Global

“Alberta abounds with sunny days and opportunities to improve energy efficiency. With rapid increases in investment in both solar energy and efficiency in recent years, we know that the economic opportunities from these technologies will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. As such, the value chain that feeds into these investments will continue to expand, meaning new jobs and business opportunities for Albertans. This collaboration between WeFaces and EIA is an exciting initiative to grasp these opportunities for the region.”
– Heather MacKenzie, Executive Director, Solar Alberta

This development will be the second major solar-power related investment at EIA, following the announcement this past summer of Airport City Solar. The two projects are unrelated to each other but represent EIA’s commitment to fostering growth and diversity in the energy sector.

About WeFaces Technology Inc.
WeFaces Technology Inc. is a new Alberta company, which will act as the North American head office and distribution point for NanDe Solar Energy Technology Co Ltd. Based in China. 

NanDe Solar Energy Technology Co., Ltd., formerly the Zhongshan Wanxin Lighting Technology Co., Ltd., was founded in 2003 with a registered capital of 10 million RMB, located in Xiaolan Town, Zhongshan city, Guangdong province, China. Nande Solar outdoor lighting and integrated application products are the best combination of latest solar energy and LED lighting technology. Nande Solar has projects in 65 countries from Kenya to Australia. For more information visit: www.wefaces.ca

About Edmonton International Airport
Edmonton International Airport is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive sustainable 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. For more information please visit flyeia.com, or follow @flyeia on TwitterInstagramLinkedInor Facebook.

About Edmonton Global

The purpose of Edmonton Global is to radically transform and grow the economy of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. We are a not-for-profit corporation founded by 15 municipalities that make up the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our focus is attracting foreign investment, helping regional businesses export with the world, enhancing our region’s global competitiveness, and bringing our region together with a unified voice to attract the attention and interest of investors the world over.

Media Contact:
Darrell Winwood
Edmonton International Airport
Corporate and Digital Communications
587-338-4454

Vilens Lin
CEO, WeFaces Technology Inc.
lin@wefaces.ca

Chris McLeod
Vice President, Global Marketing & Communications
Edmonton Global
780-499-4517

How growing global electric car sales could be a boon for Alberta

Lithium used in batteries found in brine already pumped by oil operations

Lithium, a key component in electric vehicle batteries, can be found in brine pumped during the petroleum extraction process. (The Associated Press)

It may sound paradoxical, but electric cars could soon be an economic driver for oil-rich Alberta.

Global sales of electric vehicles grew by 43 per cent in 2020, according to numbers recently released by sales database EV Volumes. A key component of their batteries is lithium, a mineral found in Alberta — if you know where to look.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for lithium in Alberta,” said Roy Eccles, a senior consultant with Apex Geoscience in Edmonton, in an interview with CBC’s Radio Active.

Eccles says exploration in the last decade by companies of the Devonian-aged oil and gas reservoirs — between 1,600 and 3,330 metres below the surface — has confirmed the accompanying salt-water brine is enriched with lithium.

The Leduc Formation, the source of Alberta’s first big oil boom, is also a rich lithium deposit. There are about 10.6 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent identified in the province, according to the Canadian Lithium Association, and the potential could be even higher.

London-based commodity researcher and market consultant Roskill released an August report that notes demand will grow for the mineral at least until 2030. 

Eccles says current major lithium extraction areas in arid climates near the equator use evaporation pods that can take months to years and leave a large environmental footprint. 

That’s not possible in Canada’s climate, he said. Instead, companies are attempting to develop new technology that will rapidly extract lithium from the brine.

Lithium is plentiful in Alberta, and companies are hoping to capitalize on growing demand for lithium batteries by finding an easier and greener way to extract the light metal. (CBC)

Existing infrastructure 

The Alberta advantage is that it can use already existing oil operations and technologies.

“It’s essentially using infrastructure that’s already in place,” Eccles said, adding that petroleum production is measured in short timelines, pumping up hydrocarbons before reinjecting the brine back underground.

There is also an environmental feature to the process, according to University of Alberta associate professor of earth sciences Daniel Alessi.

“They’re taking something that’s already being produced, essentially, and adding value to that with very little carbon footprint,” Alessi said. 

“It’s exciting because there’s certainly a green aspect to it.”

Alessi said it would also be advantageous for Canada to have its own internal source of lithium.

The limiting factor is technology to convert the brine into a usable product.

“We’re at the point right now where the technology is, I would say, holding back the commercialization of the process,” he said. Alessi added that some key players have reached the pilot stage with aims to reach an industrial scale process in two to five years.

Daniel Alessi is an associate professor at the University of Alberta who specializes in clean lithium extraction from the oilfield. (Audrey Neveu/Radio-Canada)

Canadian companies developing processes

In December, Vancouver-based Lithium Standard announced it had successfully completed a proof-of-concept to extract lithium from a brine in Arkansas.

There are a number of companies in Alberta developing their own processes, including Summit Nanotech.

The Calgary-based startup delayed plans for testing in 2020 due to the pandemic but further developed its process, which CEO Amanda Hall says resulted in improved operating expenses and reduced end-to-end greenhouse gas emissions.

“The opportunity to grow a sector that supports the future of renewable energy storage and electromobility while in parallel continuing efforts to create a low carbon barrel of oil sets Alberta apart in the energy landscape,” she said in an email.

“We are excited to be a part of this.”

Hall said a pilot is on schedule to be commissioned in Chile this year. 

Reducing greenhouse gas output

Calgary-based E3 Metals was founded in 2016 and hopes to run a pilot of its own lithium extraction process by the end of this year. It aims to eventually drill its own project into the Leduc Formation.

CEO Chris Doornbos said the eventual operation’s greenhouse gas output will be mitigated by using electricity from its own gas-fired power plant, creating a net zero emission for the product.

He also said that compared to mining a more traditional lithium operation, the model uses only about three per cent of the land use and will not consume fresh water or leave tailings.

“When you look at it from that perspective, producing lithium in Alberta is much more environmentally responsible than most other production of lithium in the world.”

Doornbos said lithium extraction presents an opportunity for expertise already present in Alberta’s energy sector to be put to a new use.

“At the end of the day, it’s still putting Albertans back to work — it’s nothing we don’t know how to do or haven’t done before.”

E3 Metals’ current roadmap aims for commercial operations by 2024.

Greater Edmonton Region Well-Suited to Become Canada’s First Hydrogen Node

New report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force Builds on Previous Finding that Canadian Hydrogen has a Market Potential of up to $100 Billion a Year.

Released November 16, 2020, the new report from Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force lays out a roadmap for how to implement a hydrogen as fuel economy in the Greater Edmonton Region. The Task Force was organized by The Transition Accelerator and led by Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur, Strathcona County Mayor Rod Frank and Lamont County Reeve David Diduck. With the release of its report, the Task Force has completed its mandate. The final report is available to read here.

Titled “Building a Transition Pathway to a Vibrant Hydrogen Economy in the Alberta Industrial Heartland,” the report has found that the Greater Edmonton Region is well-suited to become Canada’s first hydrogen node, defined as an initiative to accelerate the development of a regional hydrogen economy that can later be connected to other nodes across the country to achieve sufficient scale for a vibrant Canada-wide hydrogen economy. In particular, the region is a good place for Canada’s first node because of its access to low-cost natural gas, existing experience in hydrogen production and carbon capture and storage, a vast network of pipeline infrastructure, a large talent pool of engineers and tradespeople, and engaged industries, governments, First Nations and university and college academics. The report also complements the Government of Canada’s upcoming hydrogen strategy and the Government of Alberta’s recently released Natural Gas Vision and Strategy, which lays out a future vision for Alberta hydrogen production, use and export.

Among the main findings in the Task Force’s report are that heavy transport and heating are key to building demand for zero-emissions hydrogen. For instance, heavy-duty commercial and municipal vehicles such as fleets of trucks and buses are vital to creating demand in the region because they use large amounts of fuel and travel the same routes every day, requiring the construction of only a limited number of strategically-placed fueling stations. Heating residential and commercial buildings could also drive demand, as hydrogen can be blended with natural gas to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The report recommends that this demand for hydrogen be met through centralized large-scale hydrogen production potentially moved through repurposed abandoned or discontinued pipelines, which are crucial to reducing capital costs and reaching both key transportation corridors and neighbourhoods. Government investment may be required in the short-term, but the objective of the node is to drive the implementation of a hydrogen economy where the scale of supply and demand ensures that the full economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen will be realized without sustained public investment.

The Task Force’s report is supported by findings from a recent Transition Accelerator report, which establishes hydrogen as a vital component of Canada’s future clean energy system and the fuel of choice to decarbonize heavy freight, shipping, planes, space heating in cold climates and heavy industries such as steelmaking. The Transition Accelerator’s report also projects that Canadian hydrogen has a wholesale market potential of up to $100 billion a year, factoring in both domestic earnings and international export opportunities, and reveals that hydrogen can be made in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland for about half the wholesale price of diesel.

“Hydrogen will be a critical part of the future clean energy system, and the race is on to innovate value chains and business models to implement a vibrant Canadian hydrogen economy,” said Dan Wicklum, CEO, The Transition Accelerator. “Canada’s low-cost hydrogen offers a significant competitive advantage, and convening groups like the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force to implement regional hydrogen economies across Canada will allow us to join global leaders.” 

“The synergies our region possesses through industry expertise, our educated and skilled workforce, carbon capture and storage and a supportive municipal alliance puts Alberta’s Industrial Heartland at a great advantage to build Canada’s first hydrogen node,” states Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “It’s a win-win not only for Alberta, but one that will reap many benefits for Canada nation-wide as the world continues moving toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we’re ready.”

“The natural resources, pipelines, talent, leadership, and innovative spirit that made Alberta an energy powerhouse are the same aspects that will allow us to be a leader in the clean energy future,” said Mayor Don Iveson, City of Edmonton. “The regions that figure out how to quickly scale up the use and production of hydrogen as a fuel will win economically and environmentally in a quickly changing world.”

“Alberta’s government applauds the work of the Alberta Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force in exploring the enormous potential of large-scale commercial hydrogen production in the province and for creating a well-thought out roadmap on how hydrogen could be integrated into our economy,” said Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity. “We have the resources, talent and experience to reap significant long-term economic benefits from this clean-burning fuel source, and we need to be ready to leverage them in the coming years. We are proud to partner with the Task Force on their work, which will be invaluable as we build our province’s roadmap for advancing a strong and profitable hydrogen economy.”

“We’re a vast country, and when it comes to producing hydrogen, there are advantages in every region,” said Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources. “This announcement is great news for Edmonton. This is how Canada will lead a global hydrogen economy.”

For a full list of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Hydrogen Task Force members and advisors, click here. To read the Task Force’s final report, click here.

ATCO TO BUILD ALBERTA’S FIRST HYDROGEN BLENDING PROJECT WITH ERA SUPPORT

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.

Investor Inquiries:
Myles Dougan
Director, Investor Relations & External Disclosure
T: 403 292 7879 C: 403 828 2908

Media Inquiries:
Leanne Madder
Senior Communications Advisor
T: 587-215-9115

Trash is biofuel treasure; Enerkem uses Alberta as a launching pad for expansion

Photograph of Enerkem facility in Edmonton, Alberta
The Enerken facility in Edmonton, Alberta (supplied by Enerkem)

Up on the wall in Enerkem’s Montreal HQ is a map of the world, peppered with dozens of little multicoloured pins. They’re scattered over North America, Europe and Asia — each point representing a visit. Someone, or someones, who travelled to Alberta for a tour of the company’s one-of-a-kind creation. 

Enerkem’s Edmonton facility, with its tall tanks hidden among a web of steam beams and railings, is easy to lose among the many other industrial sites that sit just off the Anthony Henday, east of the city. But the facility marks a huge step forward — the first commercial facility in the world to turn municipal trash into biofuel. And that’s attracted a lot of interest, both in Canada and beyond.

“We could probably make a whole other business out of it, if we made people pay for a tour,” says Michel Chornet, Enerkem’s Executive Vice President of Engineering, Innovations and Operations.

Canada creates a massive amount of trash – about 13 million tonnes of it in 2008, according to the Conference Board of Canada. That was enough to put Canada ahead of other 17 countries when calculating municipal waste per capita. And while other sources of waste have cleaned up their act since then, garbage from homes has actually gone up. In 2016, Statscan estimated 282 kilograms of residential waste was generated for every person in Canada, up from 269 kilograms in 2002. 

While some of that waste gets diverted to recycling programs and composting facilities, the majority of it ends up in landfills or incinerators, both of which have large environmental impacts.

For the past two decades, Enerkem has been trying to find a new use for this endless stream of trash. By turning waste into biofuels, not only would there be less waste headed to the landfill, but it would also offer a more environmentally friendly way of producing fuel and chemicals for industry. 

“We knew in the future there would be a mandate for biofuels,” he said. “We could resolve two problems at one time.”

The company found success with a pilot project in Quebec. But the next hurdle was a big one. They had to show that the process not only worked but that it could be scaled up to be commercially viable. 

The chance to test it out came when Enerkem was approached by the City of Edmonton. The city had already built a reputation for being on the forefront of waste management and now it had pledged itself to an ambitious goal: diverting 90% of its municipal waste away from the landfill. 

Some of this could be done through recycling and composting programs. But that still leaves a lot of waste with nowhere to go: things like plastics, Styrofoam and normally recyclable items that are in poor condition. 

Fortunately, Chornet says, that’s exactly the material that works well for biofuel.

“They didn’t want to have to build another landfill,” he says. “People see it as a waste, we see it as a carbon resource,” he says. 

The whole process is shockingly quick. Once the recyclables, compost and metal has been removed, it’s brought to Enerkem’s facility. First, the waste is sorted and shredded and then sent into a gasifier where it is turned into synthetic gas (or syngas).

From there, the syngas is cleaned, purified and refined until it is to the point where it can either be turned into biofuels — like liquid methanol or ethanol — or in high-grade syngas that can later be made into chemicals like ammonia. The entire process takes about 5 minutes. 

The plant is now responsible for diverting about 30% of Edmonton’s waste, Chornet says.

The facility’s success drew a lot of attention.

“It’s a big step for us,” he says. “It’s a project that has already led to a lot of other partnerships and attention. We’re the only one who has been able to convert waste for that scale into chemical and biofuels.”

One of the most important partnerships has been Enerkem’s collaboration with Suncor, which uses the biofuel created by the plant for transportation. Chornet says the energy giant “has a lot of trucks” and biofuel offers a greener way of keeping them on the road. As well, he says Suncor has provided vital technical expertise to help refine Enerkem’s technology and make their own operations more efficient. 

“It’s a great partnership. They are an operator, we’re technologists. They bring a lot of common sense and pragmatic information to how we operate.”

That partnership has also come with a big investment. A little over a year ago, Suncor joined the company’s existing investors in putting another $76.3 million into the company to expand to other regions. Last summer, Enerkem started preparatory work on a second waste-to-biofuel plant outside Varennes, Quebec.

Chornet says that the company is also looking towards other cities within Canada, although he said they weren’t ready to go into any specifics. As well, Enerkem is currently developing facilities in the Netherlands and Spain. 

As they do branch out across the country, he says the Edmonton experiment will serve as a blueprint for other facilities. 

From the start, Enerkem’s goal has always been to design a process that was easy to transfer to new cities. The “core technology” remains the same, according to Chornet, and modular construction means that new facilities can be spun up quickly based on the experience gained from the Alberta plant. 

Edmonton’s success also opened opportunities for other industries. Chornet says many of the visitors touring the Alberta plant hail from sectors that they hadn’t considered before, looking to see if Enerkem’s process could lead to turning waste into other useful products. 

“One of the things that really came from Edmonton was interest from other parties. It opened the door to other things – can we do aviation fuel? Can we do plastics?” he says.

“It generated a bunch of innovation. It’s gone even beyond our expectations.”

Fort Saskatchewan chosen for new ATCO project

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

Tel: 780.992.6231 / Email: mmorrissey@fortsask.caWeb: fortsask.ca / Facebook: CityFortSask / Twitter: @CityFortSask

World’s-largest airport solar farm arriving at EIA

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.” 

– Malcom Bruce, CEO Edmonton Global

EIA is dedicated to sustainability and continuing its record of environmental initiatives. Other examples of how EIA supports environmental sustainability see:

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 TwitterInstagramLinkedin 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.

Media Contact: 

Chris Chodan, EIA   
c: 780 700 3596 
e: cchodan@flyeia.com

Adrian Ioance, 
Alpin Sun, Vice-President Business Development
c: +1 888 963 8033
e: adrian.ioance@alpin-sun.de

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