Canada announced a raft of clean energy initiatives at the close of last week’s Clean Energy and Mission Innovation Ministerial summits held in a pair of Scandinavian cities as the country readies itself to be host of the process next year.
Sitting outside the formal UN climate talks process, the Clean Energy Ministerial was launched in 2009 by then US energy secretary Steven Chu, aiming to break through the diplomatic logjam that is often encountered at UN climate talks when trying to reach consensus between around 195 countries. The meeting brings together ministers from a smaller group of 26 nations to focus on clean energy technologies.
The Mission Innovation Ministerial, which also brings together ministers instead of diplomats in order to have actual decision-makers in the room, is just three years old, but aims to promote a doubling of public sector funding of clean tech R&D.
During the meetings, Natural Resources Canada alongside Japan’s Trade and Industry ministry and the United States Department of Energy launched the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy alliance, or “NICE Future”, to promote both conventional and next-generation nuclear power as a solution to climate change. Argentina, Poland, Russia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates have also joined the new international grouping.
Canada also joined a ten-country grouping aiming to accelerate adoption of carbon capture utilization and storage. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) describes a suite of technologies still in development that scrub industrial processes of their carbon emissions and store the captured CO2 underground or under the seabed. Canada is home to the first commercial-scale CCS operation, at Boundary Dam in Saskatchewan. The “utilization” part of the new initiative involves promotion of commodities derived from the captured CO2, such as fertilizer, feedstocks for chemicals and plastics, or liquid fuels, as an alternative to deep geological storage.
The federal government and the UK announced the launch of a $20 million initiative called the Smart Energy Challenge to bankroll projects focussing on smart grids (electricity grids that shift electricity demand to different times of the day to better align demand with the fluctuating supply from sources such as wind and solar) and energy storage, two of the main breakthroughs needed to permit high levels of penetration of variable renewable energy sources.
On the final day of the summits, Canada announced it would play host to next year’s round, this time in Vancouver.
The Climate Examiner speaks to BC-based Carbon Engineering about the technology, the business and the policies that could make direct air capture, synfuels and carbon sequestration work.