Carbon-capture companies optimistic about climate plan
With the clock ticking on the race to mitigate climate change, Canada has announced its most ambitious emissions-reductions plan to date. To reach our 2030 targets, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says the oil and gas industry will need to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 42 per cent. The plan also includes new incentives for electric vehicles, investments in cleantech and support to help oil and gas workers transition to green-energy jobs.
Big question: Canada has missed nine climate targets since 1990. What’s different about this plan?
“For the first time, we have a solid sector-by-sector plan that shows how every part of Canada’s economy will do its part to meet our 2030 climate pledge of a 40 to 45 per cent reduction of carbon emissions below 2005 levels,” says Linda Coady, executive director of the Pembina Institute, a think tank devoted to energy and environmental issues. “Regardless of sector — oil and gas, transportation, or building infrastructure — everyone now has clear direction on what their industry needs to do over the next decade as Canada transitions to a net-zero economy.”
Leaning into technology: Another differentiating factor in this plan, is that the Government of Canada has formally committed to developing a carbon-capture utilization and storage (CCUS) strategy for the first time. This includes a new investment tax credit to incentivize the development and adoption of carbon-capture technology.
Robert Niven, CEO of CarbonCure Technologies is pleased to see this included. His Halifax-based company has developed a technology to introduce recycled carbon dioxide into fresh concrete mixtures, trapping the greenhouse gas in everything from highway surfaces to the walls of apartment buildings.
Niven says he’ll be watching for specific details as the plan rolls out.
“Decarbonization projects and policies must promote the development of the ecosystem by encouraging market demand for low carbon products and inclusion of new innovative technology companies.”
The tech industry has been calling for the government to play a bigger role in procuring and incentivizing the adoption of Canadian-made clean technologies. A 2020 report from the Innovation Economy Council said carbon capture and other climate-related ventures “need government assistance to get across what is often described as the ‘valley of death’ — the gap between pre-commercial product development and commercial sales.”
What’s next: This is the first emissions-reduction plan issued under the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act. Progress will be reviewed in reports produced in 2023, 2025, and 2027. Additional targets and plans will be developed for 2035 through to 2050.
Multibillion-dollar tube-transportation project gets financial green light: The same week Ottawa announced its new climate plans, which look at emissions across the sectors, including transportation, a joint Canadian-French company announced big plans for what it calls the “fifth mode of transportation.” TransPod secured $688.2 million in financing for the construction of the Alberta TransPod Line to connect the cities of Edmonton and Calgary in Canada. The company says test track construction, high-speed tests and certification are scheduled between 2023-2027.
In August 2020, the company said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Alberta to determine the feasibility of the project.
Quick fact: The transportation sector follows closely behind oil and gas as the second-biggest carbon emitter.
Environmental benefits: The TransPod system will have “zero emissions.” According to co-founder and CEO Sebastien Gendron, “The train will run on an electric system and the infrastructure will be equipped with 300 km of solar panels to compensate for the overall system’s energy consumption.”
What’s more, the Alberta TransPod feasibility study claims that the expected annual ridership between Edmonton and Calgary will reduce CO2 emissions by 636,000 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of planting a forest four times bigger than Calgary.
How will it work? TransPod’s hyperloop design uses magnets to levitate the vehicles as they move through low-pressure tubes. The vehicles are driven by linear induction motors and air compressors and can travel at speeds of up to 1,000 km/h.
Industry concerns: In 2020, an Aecom report commissioned by Transport Canada on hyperloop feasibility concluded that with so many unknown factors and rising capital costs, hyperloop may fall short as an economically competitive alternative. It said the costs to users will be more comparable to airfares than any local land-based transportation service.
For Gendron, the system is “a solution for intercity travel more than a public transit system, interconnected to each city’s transit network.” In TransPod’s most recent feasibility study, it showed improved affordability for travellers where an estimated ticket cost for a ride from Edmonton to Calgary would be approximately $90 and take 45 minutes, compared to more than three hours spent driving or $162 for the av
erage plane ticket.
In other news:
- Toronto medtech startup Cosm Medical secured $4.7 million in an oversubscribed seed round as it looks to further develop and launch its digital gynecology platform and gynecological prosthetics.
- Facebook owner Meta plans to build an engineering hub in downtown Toronto and hire 2,500 skilled workers over the next five years. Meta’s current home is at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District but the new hires will be directed to a new, larger space downtown.
- Legaltech startup Athennian raised $41.5 million in a Series B funding round. The Calgary company says it will use the funds to continue scaling its business.
- In just a few weeks, San Francisco-based startup Sentry, a provider of bug-monitoring software for app developers, will open a new Toronto office. With offices already in Seattle, Vienna and San Francisco, the Canadian office will be the company’s fourth location. When asked why Toronto was the right fit for a new office, Ben Vinegar, VP of engineering at Sentry (responsible for running the new office) said, “We believe our developer-led culture combined with our rapid growth and global expansion are an attractive fit for Toronto’s technical talent pool.”
- Medtech startup PocketHealth has deeper pockets after securing a $20 million Series A round. The Toronto company says the funds will be used to expand its talent base, build new U.S. and Canada clinical partnerships and continue to invest in product innovation.
- Toronto-based cleantech company Peak Power partnered with Ontario municipal utility Oshawa Power. The two organizations will develop and test an energy platform that evaluates how battery storage, EVs, and solar power can improve the reliability of a local grid. The project will be at the Ontario Tech University in Oshawa, Ont.
Disclaimer This content was produced as part of a partnership and therefore it may not meet the standards of impartial or independent journalism.