MINISTER CARR ON GENERATION ENERGY
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WaterToday sent a series of questions to Natural resources Minister James Carr regarding his department's initiatives to promote and fund renewable energy.
His answers can be found below along with supplementary background information provided by his media team.
WaterToday - On October 12 you hosted the Generation Energy Forum where "more than 600 top experts from across the country and around the globe gathered in Winnipeg "for the Conversation of a Generation on how Canada is preparing for the reliable, affordable, low-carbon energy economy of the future." The interactive forum was the culmination of a six-month engagement that involved some 350,000 people through online participation, 30,000 of which were from around the world.
Can you give us a preview of some of the ideas that were proposed both online and at the forum? Which renewable solutions were privileged and how the proposals from around the world fit in with the ones from Canada?
Minister Carr - The clearest message from Generation Energy is that Canadians are engaged in our energy future. They value innovation. They want a cleaner economy. And, for them, the clean-growth future is already here. It's public policy that needs to catch up.
For example, we heard a lot of discussions on the potential of intermittent renewables, such as wind and solar, to grow with the emergence of smart grids and inexpensive energy storage. However, many participants also recognized the ongoing importance of what we call baseload renewables, such as hydro, which are likely to remain our largest sources of clean electricity.
That perspective was reflected in a lot of the other discussions online and at Generation Energy.
When you ask Canadians to describe Canada in 2050, they see a mix of traditional and non-traditional energy sources. They see a country where there are electric vehicle-charging stations in their neighbourhoods, where remote, off-the-grid communities are generating their own clean power, and where the rest of the country is connected to a grid that is clean, affordable and reliable.
They see a Canada where we live in energy-efficient houses with many more solar panels on the roof and a storage battery in every home, where we have greater access to public transportation and where we are producing a wide mix of renewable energy and exporting our innovation and clean technology to the world.
WaterToday - According to NRCan's website, bioenergy is the second largest source of renewable energy (after hydroelectricity) in Canada. In 2000, there were five biomass-powered community heat projects in the country. By 2014, that number had grown to 150 projects.
Did any of the Generation Energy Forum proposals involve moving bioenergy forward?
Minister Carr - The dedicated session on Bioenergy as a Reliable Energy Source was all about moving the bioenergy sector forward — particularly with biojet fuels and other applications where electrification isn't an option. Not surprisingly, participants also described great opportunities and benefits for bioenergy in rural and Indigenous communities.
It's important to remember that biomass is the world's only source of renewable carbon and Canada already enjoys a competitive advantage in the bio-economy. Participants told us they want us to build on that, and they told us that greater cooperation across governments will be critical for the development of bioenergy resources and technologies.
WaterToday - Under the Innovation and Clean Growth Programs, funding is available for Clean Energy Innovation Projects, Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstrations, Oil and Gas Clean Tech Program and Oil Spill Response Science Program. Among these, The Energy Innovation Program (EIP)received $25M over 2 years, to support clean energy innovation in key priority areas that include renewable, smart grid and storage systems; reducing diesel use by industrial operators in northern and remote communities; methane and VOC emission reduction; reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector; carbon capture, use and storage; improving industrial efficiency. So far, two projects have been accepted in this category, one for Assessing methane emissions and the other for Environmental Monitoring of Tidal Energy Technology.
Can you tell us when this current funding program started accepting proposals, how many other proposals were received in this category and whether any pertained to reducing diesel in northern and remote communities?
Minister Carr - No Comment
*Supplementary background information
WaterToday - Given Canada's vast expanses, wind energy should be one of the country's top renewable energy sector, yet it seems to lag behind because of its intermittent nature and the cold and icy Canadian weather. NRCan has been funding demonstration projects to overcome these shortcomings.
Can you tell us a bit about the Cowessess First Nation wind and storage technology and the CanmetENERGY's program to analyze the impact of cold climate operation on Canadian wind energy generation?
Minister Carr - Wind energy has been one of the fastest growing sources of new electricity in Canada for many years. In fact, a lot of provinces are increasingly turning to wind energy to support their transition to the low-carbon economy. There are many good reasons for that. One of them is the new and innovative ways that researchers and utilities are coming up with to manage electricity systems better with high amounts of variable energy. There have also been a lot of breakthroughs with wind energy in harsh environments.
**Supplementary background information
WaterToday - In a recent interview on WaterToday, Minister Philpott tackled the issue of discrimination regarding First Nations issues, there may be a case to be made for economic discrimination when it comes to government funding. For example, within the Clean Energy Innovation Funding Program, more money $50M was allotted and more proposals (5) have been accepted so far under the Oil and Gas Clean Tech Projects than any other category. The recipients of this funding are mostly Oil And Gas Companies. Accepted projects in other categories involve provincial utilities and universities.
While the value of expertise cannot be overlooked, do you think that there is a risk of economic discrimination in the allotment of these funds favouring the large well -resourced entities to the detriment of smaller start-ups which might have innovative ideas but are less adept at playing the system and do not have the resources to flesh-out proposals?
Minister Carr - Our Government and my department are working hard to ensure that funding recipients reflect the broad range of applicants we are targeting with our programs, including Indigenous communities.
In its call for proposals for energy innovation projects, Natural Resources Canada accepts proposals from a wide range of applicants.
**Supplementary background information:
*Supplementary Background Information
The call for proposals was launched last year, in mid-August, (Aug. 18, 2016) and it closed 10 weeks later, at the end of October — October 31, 2016 to be exact. We received more than 250 proposals, 26 of which dealt with reducing reliance on diesel in northern and remote communities. A total of 25 projects have been selected for the $25 million in grants and contribution funding that's available Two have already been announced and the remaining projects will be announced in due course. You can find the details of the two announced projects on our website, at https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/funding/icg/1887. We plan to announce the rest of the successful projects in the coming weeks and months, and you will see that they cover six technology areas, including two that will reduce our reliance on diesel.
**Supplementary Background Information
There are a number of successful demonstration projects that are contributing to this progress and that were launched in part with Natural Resources Canada's research and government investments. The Cowessess First Nation wind and storage technology project is a good example. It's a model for other Indigenous communities that want to create renewable micro-grids.
The Raglan Mine in northern Quebec is another great example. It's transforming the energy landscape by using an Arctic-grade wind turbine and leading-edge storage technologies to drastically reduce reliance on diesel. Every step of the project has been an engineering marvel, beginning with the design of the turbine's spider-like steel foundation, which anticipates further thawing of the permafrost.
Natural Resources Canada's CanmetENERGY researchers have been undertaking a detailed analysis of the effect of cold climate on wind turbine operations. That includes its ground-breaking work with the TechnoCentre Eolien based in Gaspe, Quebec.
I urge you to visit our website for more information on all of these projects and CanmetENERGY's research on wind-energy generation in colder climates.
Here are some links.
For the Cowessess First Nation project:
For the Raglan Mine:
For the TechnoCentre Eolien:
You might also be interested in the support Natural Resources Canada is providing toward the construction of the Wind Energy Institute of Canada's battery storage facility that is part of their wind park. Here's the link:
***Supplementary Background Information
I would start by noting that your questions contains a few small, factual errors. For example, the Clean Energy Innovation Program ($25 million in Grants and Contribution funding over one-year in 2017-2018) is a different program than the Oil and Gas Clean Tech program ($50 million over two years in 2016-2017 and 2017-2018). The programs are distinct and have different objectives. Both programs were announced in Budget 2016. (http://www.budget.gc.ca/2016/docs/plan/budget2016-en.pdf.)
Details of the two programs are available online:
- Information on the Clean Energy Innovation Program can be found at the following web link: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/funding/icg/18876
- Information on the Oil & Gas Clean Tech program can be found at the following web link: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/funding/icg/18472
You can find details about how we are doing this on our website, at: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/science/programs-funding/eip/20024)
For the Clean Energy Innovation Program, we still have 23 selected projects that have yet to be announced. I think when they are revealed you will see that they reflect the broad range of applicants that the program attracted.
For the Oil and Gas Clean Tech program, three of the five projects announced to date are with oil and gas companies. Other announcements are expected in the near future, which will reflect the broad range of applicants who have submitted proposals, including smaller start-ups. The two other projects already announced are with CMC Research Institutes and Alberta Innovates, which are research organizations.
Finally, Natural Resources Canada is planning to launch a call for proposals later this fall to reduce reliance on diesel in rural, northern, and remote communities. This program will include capacity-building funding to help indigenous groups prepare their proposals and implement their projects. I invite you to visit our website for additional details at: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/renewable-electricity/wind/7321.