What sets Alberta’s Industrial Heartland apart?

Amazing things are happening in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, especially in heavy industry, moving us towards our goal of net-zero carbon emissions.

Situated in the northeastern Edmonton region, 582 square kilometres of pre-zoned, rich industrial land is leading the province and the country through the energy transition. Investment into this area has been flooding in since the 1950s due to its logistically ideal location and resources. 

Here, most ventures convert low-cost natural gas and liquid fuel stocks into value-add products. Alberta’s Industrial Heartland shows the way for investment and growth in Alberta and leads the world in the clean energy transition.

So, what sets the Edmonton region and Alberta’s Industrial Heartland apart? 

Carbon sequestration

The Edmonton region’s hydrogen carbon sequestration capacity is one of the many benefits that make it an ideal centre for the hydrogen economy to flourish. Its carbon sequestration abilities are the second-largest globally—the method of absorbing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide to lower carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Alberta has over twenty years of proven experience in carbon sequestration. 

The Alberta geological survey studied what the Alberta sandstone formation can hold, and it’s around a thousand years of current emissions. Not only is there a significant amount of natural resources in the area, there is a vast amount of storage capacity for carbon, and investors are buying into the opportunity. Six new storage hub projects have the go-ahead to begin planning and development into emission reduction projects in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland. 

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland has tremendous carbon sequestration capacity, knowledge and technology as well as access to some of the lowest-cost natural gas in the world—and hydrogen by extension. Add to that its knowledge and ability in biofuels and a large number of studies and investments being made into the area, and you get an area that is uniquely positioned to lead the world in meeting our net-zero carbon goals. 

Additionally, the Edmonton region has much of the infrastructure it needs to support this, while still having the schools, residential areas, transport, etc that are necessary for industries and companies to work on their clean energy projects while still living their normal lives. The ability for companies to take part in these projects without having to adopt the camp-like lifestyle that usually comes with them is a major point of interest in the region. 

Low-cost, low-carbon

Countries have high ambitions for energy transition, and to shift energy systems as rapidly as feasible, they must be at scale. 

A significant benefit for the region is the availability of low-cost natural gas, which can be utilized to produce hydrogen. The region has access to some of the most low-cost natural gas globally and its production capacity is available now. This contributes to why the region is able to create low-carbon hydrogen at some of the lowest costs globally.

All of this contributes to the overall affordability of hydrogen energy production in Alberta, which is an essential part of making the clean energy transition feasible. 

Outlook

Along with heavy investment, many companies are promoting studies to look further at projects in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, taking advantage of the low cost, natural gas, carbon capture sequestration capability, and freshwater. Already there are studies being conducted on low carbon ammonia for the export market. 

There has been investigation into metal refining to make a cobalt-type product for the battery chain, which also helps with decarbonization. Additionally, Dow has demonstrated intense interest in the Edmonton region.

Mark Plamondon, Executive Director of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, stated that Dow has “announced publicly that they’re looking seriously at the industrial Heartland for the world’s first net-zero ethylene manufacturing facility.” He added that once fully approved, this represents a $10 billion investment and will create approximately 7,000 construction jobs.

These investments, studies, and capabilities within Alberta’s Industrial Heartland signal to the world that this is a region that makes it possible to meet both economic and environmental objectives simultaneously and it is clear that many organizations are already aware of this fact—and they are acting on it. 

Investments are being made into Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, due to its unique positioning in the clean energy transition—particularly when it comes to carbon sequestration and hydrogen production. 

Plamondon cites a few examples during the Hydrogen Convention:

  • Inter Pipeline’s $5 billion complex will upgrade low-cost propane into polypropylene. This is the very first project of this kind in the area. 
  • Inter Pipeline enters into MOU with Itochu and Petronas on ammonia and methane as potential carriers for hydrogen to Japan and Malaysia. 
  • Nutrien, the largest fertilizer producer in the world, is producing ammonia, ammonium, and sulphate UIA in the Edmonton region. Their ability to have a competitive advantage while operating in the Edmonton region as well as being profitable while doing it is a great achievement of Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and a testament to its potential in the clean energy transition.

Biofuel

There is interest being shown by numerous companies in biofuels, biodiesel, waste of fuels, and diesel-type projects as the world continues to look towards low-carbon emission practices. The underpinning competitive advantages position the Edmonton region for these next-level investments.

Alberta’s rail access, road infrastructure, supply chain capability, and maintenance skillset in operating these types of clean energy facilities contribute to companies’ interest in the area as an investment opportunity in clean energy and the global energy transition. 

Whether it is sustainable aviation fuel, biodiesel or waste energy; there is an array of opportunities in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland that positions it as a centre for the clean energy transition.

Ultimately, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is a low-cost, low-carbon safe haven for industry leaders and companies that are passionate about pioneering the clean energy transition.

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