EDMONTON - A non-profit corporation created by the Alberta government has announced $46 million for six new projects designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Climate Change and Emissions Management Corp. says the total value of the projects including private sector and some federal money is $327 million.
Eric Newell, chairman of the corporation, said the funding and projects are hard proof that Alberta is developing technology to reduce its carbon footprint.
"The carbon capture projects and cleaner energy projects that reduce emissions from our traditional fossil fuel energy sources are key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta over the long-term," Newell said Thursday.
"We are funding projects that have tremendous potential."
The projects include the development of an Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) process that involves injecting organic solvents into the ground to recover oilsands bitumen instead of using steam.
Imperial Oil says its $100 million Cyclic Solvent project will reduce the generation of greenhouse gasses and the use of water.
MEG Energy Corp.'s $100 million project is to develop a process to convert bitumen into a less gooey crude that can more easily be transported through pipelines without using caustic solvents to break down the heavy oil.
MEG (TSX:MEG) says eliminating the use of hydrocarbon solvents reduces greenhouse gas emissions and can increase how much bitumen can flow through pipelines.
Other companies receiving funding include Cenovus Energy (TSX:CVE), Husky Energy (TSX:HSE), Inventys Thermal Technology and N-Solv.
The $46 million comes from fees the government collects from corporations that produce high levels of carbon dioxide.
Companies that produce more than 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions pay $15 for every tonne over the limit into a fund.
The emissions management corporation is responsible for awarding grants from the fund, which raises about $60 million per year.
Newell, former CEO of Syncrude Canada, said it may be time to increase the per tonne fee.
"I personally think that $15 over the long run is a low number and it should go higher," he said, but declined to say by how much.
Researchers at the Pembina Institute have said it will be difficult for Alberta to reach its climate change goals with its current policies.
Pembina has recommended the government should apply its greenhouse emission fee policy to all industries, not just heavy emitters, and double the fee to $30 per tonne.
Its researchers have noted that the B.C. government's carbon levy is double that of Alberta’s and applies to a broader part of the economy.
Alberta Environment Minister Diana McQueen said her department is reviewing the idea but hasn't made any decisions yet.
"Can't answer that question right now because we are taking a bigger look at our climate change strategy," she said.
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