Why Solar: How projects could help Alberta’s climate future

  • Jul. 20, 2017 12:43 a.m.

The CCEMC, Climate Change and Emission Management Corporation, was incorporated in 2009 by the PC Government. The NDP government elected in 2015, has changed the name from CCEMC to Emissions Reduction Alberta, ERA, and realizing the value of this initiative have continued the corporations initial mandate of supporting technological research, and the implementation of methodologies, for reducing the carbon dioxide, (CO2), and methane, (CH4), emissions generated by our fair province.

In its eight years of operation to date, the corporation has “committed more than $340 million dollars in funding to over 100 projects” in four “areas of focus”.

The first focal point addresses the reduction of the GHG footprint of our fossil fuel supply. This provides funding for advanced recovery, fugitive emissions upgrading, electrical integration of the oil sand processes, and CCUS, (Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage).

The Low Emitting Electricity initiative applies to co-generation projects, geothermal, wind farms, solar arrays, storage of alternate energy outputs, hydropower, and technologies dealing with coal phase out.

Biofuels and Resource Optimization is the next area of emphasis that deals with funding biofuels and bio products, bio-power, carbon retention, waste management, and suppression of N2O (oxides of nitrogen) and CH4 emissions.

Lastly, what is known as the Industrial Process Efficiency program, addresses existing industrial processes both in low grade heat utilization, the recovery of CO2, and the production of CO2 based products.

In the ERA stewardship update, dated May 2017, it has indicated an investment since inception, by category, of $171 million for reducing the GHG footprint of our fossil fuel supply with these funds spread over 45 projects.

Low Emitting Electrical Supply has been allocated $76 million and involves 12 projects, while Biological Resource Optimization receives $71 million allocated over 36 projects.

This leaves the Industrial Process Efficiency ventures, numbering some 25 separate projects, to consume $24 million of the total investment.

In 2012 Alberta Environment and Water, (now Alberta Environment and Parks) utilized $7 million for adaptation projects under CCEMC guidelines in effect at that time.

The ERA calculates that the projects that have been funded, will, by the year 2030, reduce the provinces total emissions of CO2 alone by some 27.5 megatonnes (Mt) over the life of 118 projects, with a total investment of $342 million. By any measure, a decent contribution from such a small portion of the world’s population.

As a whole, Canada produces 1.6% of the world’s 45261.25 megatonnes of GHG emissions from all sources, (2013 data), or some 783.38 megatonnes, reducing Alberta’s emissions by 27.5 Mt will make a 3.5% reduction in the Canadian total.

As primarily an industrial projects initiative, it does not take in to account the efforts of ordinary citizens, their adoption of alternate energy technologies, or electrical vehicle usage over the next 12 years.

In any event, it will be a significant contribution by the province when it is considered that Alberta’s population forms roughly 11.6% of the Canadian whole, as per the 2016 census. Alberta’s initiative has endured!

Lorne Oja can be reached at lorne@solartechnical.ca.

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