There was a couple of events at the end of last week that give hope to the notion that one of the world’s most maligned elements could someday be an asset.
On Friday afternoon, the federal and provincial governments unveiled a carbon conversion technology centre at the Shepard Energy Centre in southeast Calgary. The new facility will allow companies and entrepreneurs to test new technologies that turn emissions into useable products.
That same day, Emissions Reductions Alberta (ERA) announced four finalists for the ERA Grand Challenge. The final four comes from an initial list of 344 submissions from around the world. Two of the projects deal with improving the way concrete is produced. Another proposes to convert carbon dioxide and saline waste water to oil and gas field chemicals and re-useable water. And, there’s a proposal by engineers at McGill University in Montreal to use sunlight to transform carbon dioxide.
“We searched the world for the best solutions for Alberta to move carbon dioxide from a waste stream to an asset,” ERA CEO, Steve MacDonald, told me. “In the process we are attracting new companies and new ideas to the province.”
Each of the four projects will get up to $3 million to test and assess their technologies over the next two years. In 2019, one of these projects will be eligible for up to $10 million to help commercialize its technology in Alberta. The dollars come from Alberta’s large emitters who are paying into the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund.
I’m still a big fan of planting trees to absorb carbon. But, it’s intriguing to see whether technology can deliver on ideas and promises of turning carbon into an asset. And if a few jobs and a revenue stream can be realized in this province and something that is developed here can be sold to the world; so much the better.