January 22, 2007

Ottawa pledges $230M to increase green energy supply, enhance efficiency, curb emissions from traditional sources

The federal government's ecoEnergy Technology Initiative, announced January 17 by Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn and Environment Minister John Baird, will invest $230 million investment in the research, development and demonstration of clean energy technologies. It will accelerate the advancement and market readiness of technologies in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-emission or emission-free conventional energy.

Lunn observed that "our real challenge is to be a clean-energy superpower. To do this, we must address the fact that the greatest source of untapped energy is the energy we waste. We must also increase our use of renewable energy and develop the science and technology to make conventional energy cleaner."

The ecoEnergy Technology Initiative presents a focused, integrated approach built on a number of key priorities. Its funds will be directed toward activities in three main areas:

*increasing clean energy supplies, through the development of technologies that enable greater use of clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, small hydro and bioenergy.

*enhancing energy efficiency to make more and better use of wasted energy, one of Canada's leading untapped energy sources. In addition to increasing the availability of energy and reducing environmental damage, this will save significant amounts of money; and

*reducing pollution from conventional energy sources: this currently represents Canada's greatest energy challenge. Developing and deploying key technologies (such as clean coal and CO2 capture and storage) has enormous potential to reconcile continued fossil fuel use with the goal of reducing air emissions during the transition to a cleaner energy economy.

Within these three main areas, the government will take leadership on a number of energy priorities, including: CO2 sequestration and storage; clean coal; clean oil sands production; renewable energy and other clean energy sources; advanced vehicles, including hydrogen fuel cells and plug-in electric vehicle technologies; next-generation nuclear; and bioenergy.

Projects under the ecoEnergy Technology Initiative will be expected to lead to significantly reduced emissions of particulates, gaseous pollutants, toxic substances and greenhouse gases from the production and use of energy. Most of the projects will be carried out by public-private partnerships.

Specific activities will be further developed through consultation between the federal government, the provinces and industry and other private sector partners. The government will also be guided by the National Advisory Panel on Sustainable Energy Science and Technology (S&T). Program details are expected to be unveiled in April.

The lead federal agency for these projects will be the CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC) in Ottawa. The CETC has a long record of research and development addressing a wide range of environmental energy technologies for applications in fields such as:

*energy efficiency improvements for industry, communities and buildings;

*renewable energy, including solar, wind, small hydro and bioenergy;

*alternative transportation fuels, including hydrogen and fuel cells, natural gas, ethanol, and electric and hybrid vehicles;

*advanced low-emission combustion technologies; and

*clean coal and carbon dioxide capture (CO2) and storage.

The government says the S&T effort will require the participation of industry, the universities, and federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Industry can do much, but not all, of the necessary S&T, mainly because industry tends to focus on late-stage technology development with low investment risk and short-term outcomes. Similarly, the role of the universities is important but somewhat restricted, as their focus is principally on fundamental research. For these reasons, it falls to the federal government to take the lead in medium- to long-term S&T that (1) carries a higher investment risk, (2) is essential to the public good and (3) would not otherwise be done. Public-private partnerships with industry, federal, and provincial governments will be forged where interests overlap.

In Canada, the production and use of energy are responsible for the majority of air pollution and greenhouse gases. They account for 85% of all smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions, 46% of acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and 85% of greenhouse gases. The challenge for Canada is to develop the technology to produce and use its vast energy resources cleanly.

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