Priority 6: Got an Energy Idea?

Priority 6: Got an Energy Idea?

Sixth in a series on the ‘Now or Never” report of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (ENEV).

Priority six is about strengthening our foundation for energy innovation. As it can take years for a great idea to become commercially viable, one of the key issues around this priority is long-term, sustainable funding support from both the private and public sector for energy R&D.

Technology and ideas are the building blocks of Canada’s energy innovation. Canada already has an impressive record for developing and implementing new energy technologies and marketing them to a global audience. I’ve taken it easy on you for the last two posts, but now it’s time to prepare yourself for a plethora of information about Canada’s role in energy innovation.

In the senate report, the priority focusses on the government-funded side of technological innovation. There is plenty of research and development coming from the energy industry itself, but since there is so much to cover, I’ll just stick to what is in the report.

Let’s start with R&D, probably the biggest aspect of technology advancement. Many don’t even know about the lengthy task of research, but it is what fuels technology development. Which brings us back to the need for funding. Sustainable levels of funding are needed to support work in R&D. While private sector funding has historically been twice that of the public sector, federal energy R&D funding is in place and evident through programs and organizations like Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), CanmetENERGY, the Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD), the Clean Energy Fund, and ecoENERGY’s Technology Initiative and Innovation Initiative and the Industrial Research Assistance Program.  Programs such as these, many which are led by Natural Resources Canada, not only allow for R&D to occur, but also helps with the commercialization of new products. This provides incentive for inventors and entrepreneurs alike to be constantly thinking about innovative ways to solve problems in various aspects of the energy industry.

So we’re on it. Can we do better? You betcha. Canada is constantly pushing forward new technologies for the energy industry. And the connections between ideas, technology and funding are clear. For today’s lesson, let’s take a look at great energy ideas and advancements that have been made in the Canadian energy sector, as referenced in the ENEV report.

  1. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – Weyburn-Midale Co2 Monitoring and Storage project (video)
  2. Biofuels – Ocean Nutrition demonstration project
  3. Hydrogen fuel cell technology – Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (CHFCA) case studies
  4. Ocean Energy – Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) test centre
  5. District Energy – ENMAX Calgary Downtown District Energy Centre facility