Innovative Alberta energy technologies targetted by $70 million BEST Challenge

Shell Canada supports Alberta’s industrial biotechnology sector – biofuels, industrial solvents, bioplastics, etc.

Alberta is spending up to $70 million to support new, emissions-reducing technologies through a new competition called Biotechnology, Electricity and Sustainable Transportation Challenge, which is being supported by WestJet, Shell Canada, and some of the province’s leading technology companies.

The Challenge will focus on three sectors – biotechnology, electricity, transportation that together account for up to 40 per cent of Alberta’s annual GHG emissions, according to an Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) press release.

Shannon Phillips, Alberta environment minister, flanked by WestJet VP Mike McNaney (left), and Emissions Reduction Alberta CEO Steve MacDonald.

Funding for the program is provided by the government through the provincial agency Emissions Reduction agency.

“Working across sectors which share similar policy, technical and economic challenges increases the opportunity to break down barriers,” said Steve MacDonald, ERA CEO.

“Successful projects will reduce GHGs and accelerate scale-up of new value-added products and services that support economic growth, community health and environmental leadership on a local, national and global scale.”

Proposals can address a single industry or span across multiple industries.

Eligible technologies can come from anywhere the world, but projects must be piloted, demonstrated, or implemented in Alberta.

More fuel-efficient aviation technology will be a key focus of the Challenge thanks to the support of Canada’s two biggest airlines, WestJet and Air Canada.

“WestJet will be a leader in the transition to low-carbon, sustainable air travel. As we continue our growth plan using our young, modern fleet of fuel-efficient aircraft, we see affordable, sustainable jet fuel as the best opportunity to further reduce CO2 emissions from aviation,” said Mike McNaney, VP of industry, corporate and airport affairs.

“We support initiatives such as the BEST Challenge to encourage creative and innovative approaches to the development and commercialization of clean fuel technologies here in Alberta.”

The Challenge is open to technology developers, industry, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises, research and development organizations, post-secondary institutions, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government research labs and individuals.Collaboration and engagement with Alberta’s post-secondary and research institutions is encouraged, according to the release.Royal Dutch Shell is transitioning to a low-carbon fuel mix across its global operations as part of a strategy to reposition the energy giant in a market transitioning from fossil fuels to electricity generated by clean energy technologies such as wind, solar, and battery storage.

Michael Crothers, president and country chair of Shell Canada, says his company is also interested in biotechnologies that can replace fossil fuels.

 “Alberta’s industrial biotechnology sector is a growing hotbed of innovative technologies that can reduce emissions while stimulating business opportunities in areas such as biofuels, platform chemicals, industrial solvents, bioplastics and more,” he said.Alberta government funding for the Challenge will speed up the development and deployment of new technology, says Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, who is also responsible for the Climate Change Office.

“We are looking for innovative technologies that will strengthen Alberta’s economy and reduce GHG emissions. This challenge reinforces the benefits of working across sectors to find clean technology solutions,” she said.

“As always, Albertans are the source of innovation and we are proud to support made-in-Alberta projects.”

Projects are selected through a rigorous and competitive process and the application deadline is Sept. 13, 2018.

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