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

School bus crash in Edmonton sends 12 to hospital, 2 with broken bones

EDMONTON — Twelve people, including 11 children, were taken to hospital Thursday… Continue reading

Life after RDC includes Estonian music concert for two former college music instructors

Karen Gustafson and Dale Wheeler will perform June 4 at Burman University

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

HIGH LEVEL, Alta. — A fire-threatened town in northern Alberta says a… Continue reading

Crime prevention barbecue on Friday in Innisfail

Barbecue runs 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Central Alberta Co-op parking lot

India’s ruling party claims win with assured lead in votes

NEW DELHI — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party claimed it had… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Canadian ‘Aladdin’ star eyes diverse career championing homegrown talent

TORONTO — Canadian “Aladdin” star Mena Massoud says his wild carpet ride… Continue reading

Supreme Court will tuck into UberEats case about drivers’ benefit rights

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will help decide whether a… Continue reading

Speech from the throne: Read the entire text outlining UCP priorities

The following is the speech from the throne, read Wednesday in the… Continue reading

Canada’s Rebecca Marino drops second-round French Open qualifying match

PARIS — Canada’s Rebecca Marino fell just short in a second-round qualifying… Continue reading

Acclaimed writer Casey Plett wins $60K First Novel Award for ‘Little Fish’

TORONTO — Casey Plett has won the Amazon Canada First Novel Award… Continue reading

Nik Wallenda and sister plan highwire walk over Times Square

NEW YORK — For his next trick, daredevil Nik Wallenda plans to… Continue reading

Most Read