German scientists quit oilsands research

EDMONTON — Pressure over environmental concerns has forced Germany’s largest scientific organization to pull out of joint research with Alberta on better ways to upgrade oilsands bitumen.

EDMONTON — Pressure over environmental concerns has forced Germany’s largest scientific organization to pull out of joint research with Alberta on better ways to upgrade oilsands bitumen.

German scientists with the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative will no longer work on such projects, said Bernd Schneider, lead scientific co-ordinator.

“This bitumen upgrading will now be quitted,” Schneider said from Potsdam, Germany.

The initiative was created in 2011 with a five-year, $25-million commitment from the Alberta government, in addition to other funding. The plan was to bring together the University of Alberta and one of Europe’s largest scientific groups to improve environmental and engineering performance in the oilsands.

The initiative focuses on topics including waste-water management, carbon capture, geothermal power and land reclamation. It also researches improved ways to upgrade bitumen — a subject that proved controversial in Germany, where climate change is politically prominent.

“There is an ongoing campaign here in Germany with regard to oilsands, but also with regard to climate protection,” Schneider said. “We have this energy transition discussion here in Germany, which is quite intensive.”

The Helmholtz Association is composed of 18 independent organizations, four of which are involved in the joint research with Alberta. One of those institutions, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, came under increasing fire over its involvement in developing a resource many believe is environmentally unsustainable.

Eventually, pressure from both opposition and government politicians convinced the institution’s board to back off.

“Press releases were getting harsher and harsher,” Schneider said.

“The environmental research centre, being more exposed to public discussion with regard to environmental issues, has decided to do this re-orientation. They have said ’We want to have a moratorium, and then we want to see how we would like to proceed.’ ”

Schneider said Canada’s environmental reputation and its decision to walk away from climate change agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol also played a role in the discussion.

“Of course — the Kyoto Protocol was one element that contributed to that discussion.”

Germany’s upcoming election in September also played a role in raising the temperature of the debate.

“This is the point that is really driving the story,” said Schneider.

Other aspects of the Helmholtz-Alberta initiative will continue, including research on how to better upgrade low-quality lignite coal.

Just Posted

One of the last buildings needed for Red Deer’s 2019 Winter Games is being completed

RDC residence is on schedule, despite ‘tight’ time-frame, says RDC official

Police, firefighters, paramedics taught counter terrorism this week in Red Deer

Three-day course led by experts on fighting terrorists

Red Deer private school fails to support gay-straight alliances

School could lose per pupil grant from province

Red Deer man patrols streets at night after his truck was stolen twice in 3 months

‘I stay up every single night, they drive around, they test every car door…’

Lowry has strong words for Raptors’ lack of communication after loss

TORONTO — Raptors coach Nick Nurse might not have had a good… Continue reading

S. Korea’s ‘Garlic Girls’ accuse coaches of derailing team

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The Garlic Girls, South Korea’s hugely popular… Continue reading

Trump administration defends its case against CNN’s Acosta

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s administration is trying to fend off a… Continue reading

Long hidden, Marie Antoinette’s jewels go up for auction

GENEVA — Diamond and pearl earrings, pearl necklaces, a giant pearl pendant… Continue reading

A No-Go: Athletes and officials weigh in after Calgary votes ‘no’ to 2026 bid

TORONTO — Rotating Olympic hosts? A single go-to destination every four years?… Continue reading

Predators may have NHL’s best goalie combo on, off ice

NASHVILLE — Pekka Rinne is off to an even better start than… Continue reading

Canadian Premier League buys Ontario’s League 1, looks to develop talent there

TORONTO — The Canadian Premier League has bought Ontario’s League 1 and… Continue reading

Most Read