Cars, COSIA and commitment
Banff, Canada, photo credit - Cam Adams http://Unsplash.io
Welcome to the tenth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Canada signed the Paris Agreement on the 22nd of April 2016 and brought it into force on the 4th of November 2016.
According to Annex I of the Conference of Parties twenty-first session (COP21), Canada was the eighth highest emitting nation of CO2 into the atmosphere based on data submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) ahead of COP21 in December 2015.
According to Environment and Climate Change Canada greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics for Canada in 2015, the largest emitters by sector are oil and gas (26%), and road transport (24%). Roughly 10% of emissions came from electricity generation, the reason for its small share of the overall figure being that 60% of electricity in Canada is sourced from hydropower stations.
COSIA, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance was formed in March 2012. COSIA have 12 members, that include BP Canada, Cenovus, Shell Canada and Suncor. COSIA’s members share IP and environmental policies with the goal of developing innovative solutions that help reduce CO2 emissions.
Shell and Cenovus have large Carbon Storage facilities that capture carbon produced at their plants in Scotford and Weyburn respectively. Cenovus have injected 30 millions tonnes of CO2 underground since 2000 and Shell Quest was constructed for 20% less than budget.
Significant sums of money are being invested in CCUS technologies across Canada. NRG COSIA Xprize is a “$20 Million global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials, alternative fuels, and other items that we use every day”. 27 semi-finalists have been selected, representing six countries, across two tracks (coal and natural gas). Eleven of the 27 semi-finalists are Canadian companies. These include CarbonCure who are using carbon captured at cement plants to enhance the concrete produced at the plant; CERT converts carbon to formic acid (used as a livestock feed preservative), and Tandem Pond Technologies convert carbon into biodiesel and solid biodiesel through algae cultivation at their Markham Ontario ponds. Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) have invested over $35 million in CCUS projects in recent years. CO2 Solutions Inc. was the biggest recipient of funding from ERA receiving $15 million in funding towards its commercial demonstration of Biocatalytic process project in Redwater, Alberta.
Other interesting Canadian CCUS companies include CleanO2 who capture carbon produced heating residential and commercial building. The carbon is then converted into soda ash which has many uses, including its use in the production of soap.
Canada takes its commitments towards the Paris agreement and climate change extremely seriously which is reflected in government policy and funding (carbon pricing and Alberta Innovates), intellectual research, and Oil Sands buy-in (large scale CO2 storage projects and investment in innovation). NRG COSIA xPrize and private sector innovation across a wide range CCUS technologies are converting CO2 byproducts into potash, fertilisers, feedstocks, fish food, toothpaste, liquid fuels, reinforced concrete etc. New coal-fired plants are required to be constructed with carbon capture technologies. Canada’s share of global CO2 emissions has been falling steadily from 2.1% in 1990 to 1.5% in 2015. Canada’s reliance on road transport is a concern, given that road transport is responsible for 25% of its CO2 emissions. It will be interesting to see if electric cars help address this as hydropower accounts for 60% of Canadian electricity generation. Overall Canada’s policies and actions towards CO2 emissions reductions are positive and further reductions in line with the Paris agreement should be a realistic goal.