ERA is committing $58.4 million for 20 projects worth over $155 million to improve the cost competitiveness and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Alberta’s natural gas sector. Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, announced the finalists of the Natural Gas Challenge with ERA CEO, Steve MacDonald, on Tuesday, June 21, 2020 at the opening of the Maximizing Funding Potential Workshop, presented by ERA and Alberta Innovates.
If successful, these technology innovations will lead to cumulative GHG reductions of almost one million tonnes of CO2e by 2030—equivalent to the GHG emissions from 750,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. It is anticipated these projects will also deliver approximately 760 new jobs.
Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund.
The following projects were selected for funding:
Kuva Systems (Formerly Multisensor Scientific)
Methane Imaging Solution for Continuous Leak Detection and Quantification for Tank Emissions and Facility Monitoring
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Permanent installation and demonstration of an infrared camera at 100 well sites to provide continuous leak detection and quantification for tank emissions and facility monitoring.
Emissions Reductions Through Artificial Intelligence
Total project value: $16,200,000 | ERA commitment: $4,000,000
Deployment of an industrial device designed to collect large quantities of data to use artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to better quantify, locate, and classify emissions.
University of Calgary:
Field-Scale Deployment and Acceleration of Made-In-Alberta Technology for Fugitive Emissions Detection and Reduction
Total project value: $3,200,000 | ERA commitment: $1,600,000
Full-scale, field pilot of a new vehicle-based technology designed for equipment-level emissions screening to support effective regulatory leak detection and repair.
Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Fugitive Emissions Study Using Aerial Detection Technology
Total project value: $1,900,000 | ERA commitment: $930,000
Pilot project of both aerial screening technology and ground-based detection at conventional oil and gas facilities to validate technology performance and inform a broader Alternative Fugitive Emissions Management Program (FEMP).
Challenger Technical Services
Multi Component Downhole Injection System
Total project value: $2,600,000 | ERA commitment: $1,000,000
Development, testing, and validation of a multicomponent downhole injection system that uses epoxy resins to rapidly seal leaking oil and gas wells and eliminate surface casing vent flow.
Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC)
Affordable Zero-Emission Fail-Safe Electric Dump Valve Actuator (EDVA) Phase 2
Total project value: $2,200,000| ERA commitment: $550,000
Applied research, prototype design and development, and field pilot testing of an electrically-driven valve actuator that is more compact, powerful, and lower maintenance than alternative pneumatic options.
Kinitics Automation Limited
Valve Actuator for Gas Producers
Total project value: $1,100,000 | ERA commitment: $550,000
Testing a novel electric actuator at 15 well sites in Alberta to validate the technology as a cost effective, technically viable alternative to eliminate venting from established pneumatic devices.
Westgen Technologies Inc
Unlocking EPOD Economic Zero Bleed Pneumatic Instrument Air Retrofit Solution
Total project value: $4,000,000 | ERA commitment: $1,300,000
Demonstration of a solar-hybrid power generation system for remote well sites to provide reliable electricity to prevent gas venting from pneumatic devices in a cost-effective manner.
Modern Wellbore Solutions
Demonstration of a Full-Scale Multilateral Junction Assembly
Total project value: $12,100,000 | ERA commitment: $3,500,000
Full-scale deployment of a multilateral junction tool assembly that will allow natural gas operators to drill, complete, and operate multi-branched wells for unconventional reservoirs. The technology reduces emissions by enabling lateral junctions rather than requiring separate wells.
Tourmaline Oil Corp.
Natural Gas Mobile Unit for Drilling Rig Power Generation
Total project value: $8,000,000 | ERA commitment: $3,200,000
Pilot demonstration of a plug and play, mobile power generation system for drilling rigs that uses smart energy to automatically start and stop generators to match the power demand of the rig.
DOWNSTREAM AND VALUE-ADDED PROJECTS:
ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
Fort Saskatchewan Hydrogen Blending
Total project value: $5,700,000 | ERA commitment: $2,800,000
Pilot project to test hydrogen blending in ATCO’s Fort Saskatchewan natural gas distribution system. The project will source and test equipment and determine applicability of existing codes, standards, and legislation.
Ekona Power Inc.
Development and Field Testing of a Tri-Generation Pyrolysis (TGP) System for Low-cost, Clean Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $13,800,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Prototyping a new approach to converting natural gas to hydrogen and a solid carbon by-product representing a new pathway to produce zero-emissions hydrogen, electricity, and other products by decarbonizing natural gas.
Standing Wave Reformers Inc.
A New Wave in Hydrogen Production
Total project value: $8,200,000 | ERA commitment: $3,000,000
Design optimization, system integration, pilot demonstration, techno-economic analysis, and advancement of commercial deployment plans for a technology system to decarbonize natural gas.
ATCO Gas and Pipelines Ltd.
ATCO and Future Fuel RNG
Total project value: $15,900,000 | ERA commitment: $7,900,000
First-of-its-kind commercial demonstration to produce renewable natural gas (RNG) to be sold and used within the province in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fleet vehicles and commercial applications.
Co-Locating Natural Gas and Indoor Agriculture for Alberta’s Future
Total project value: $17,900,000 | ERA commitment: $5,000,000
Design, construction, and operation for a first-of-kind commercial deployment of a modular farming system that combines automation, hydroponics, adsorption cooling, and advanced lighting to grow crops.
Greenest Natural Gas-Powered Quad-generation with a 41% GHG Reduction
Total project value: $3,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,800,000
Technology that uses natural gas to generate electricity, cooling, and heating in an integrated package for multiple applications, including industrial, agricultural, commercial, and residential sectors
Stone Mountain Technologies, Inc.
Demonstration of Thermally Driven Heat Pumps for Residential Heating Applications
Total project value: $2,000,000 | ERA commitment: $990,000
Design and prototyping of technology that uses natural gas to drive a heat pump cycle. Unlike electrically-driven heat pumps, the technology is ideal for cold climates.
Total project value: $6,200,000 | ERA commitment: $2,400,000
Installation and operation of technology that provides clean, distributed electricity from the pressure and flow of natural gas without combustion.
Innovative Fuel Systems
Advanced Dual-Fuel System Commercial Demonstration
Total project value: $2,800,000 | ERA commitment: $1,200,000
Commercial validation of technology that allows heavy duty truck engines to displace up to 50 per cent of their diesel with cleaner burning natural gas.
Converting Landfill Gas to Renewable Natural Gas
Total project value: $25,000,000 | ERA commitment: $10,000,000
The project will explore opportunities to upgrade landfill gas (LFG) at Clover Bar Landfill and inject it into Alberta’s natural gas system as renewable natural gas (RNG). Stakeholders in the Clover Bar Landfill, the City of Edmonton and Capital Power, are exploring these possible opportunities.
Funding will be distributed on a milestone basis and the progress of each project is reported on until completion. All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta. All projects involve field piloting, demonstration, or commercial deployment of technology within the province.
ERA’s selection committee reviewed 117 submissions and 27 were shortlisted and invited to the Full Project Proposal stage of the funding process. Twenty projects were selected for their potential to unlock innovation across Alberta’s natural gas value chain, from production to the end consumer.
Projects were selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification conducted an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor. ERA’s Board of Directors made the final funding decision based on the recommendation of these experts.
ABOUT THE CHALLENGE
The Natural Gas Challenge was launched in October 2019. It was open to projects involving technologies at the pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial deployment stages.
Innovators with pilot, demonstration, scale-up, and first-of-kind deployment projects in the upstream, midstream, and downstream natural gas industry were invited to apply. Proposals were submitted by technology developers, industry, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises, research and development organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profits, and individuals.
The Natural Gas Challenge builds on ERA’s recent competitive calls for proposals, including the Industrial Efficiency Challenge, Methane Challenge, and BEST Challenge (Biotechnology, Electricity, and Sustainable Transportation).
To help streamline the application process, ERA collaborated with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund (NGIF) to leverage funding opportunities beyond ERA’s scope through NGIF’s $3 million Cleantech Competition. NGIF announced its semi-finalists on June 23, 2020. Six of ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge winners— Kinitics Automation, Westgen Technologies Inc., Challenger Technical Services, Ekona Power Inc., Modern Wellbore Solutions, standing wave Reformers—were shortlisted for NGIF’s funding competition.
Click the links below for more details on ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge:
WHY TARGET THE NATURAL GAS VALUE CHAIN?
Natural gas is a critical resource, providing heat and power for Alberta’s residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. It is the least GHG emitting of traditional fossil fuels, and a global shift toward natural gas from coal- and oil‑based resources is underway.
Canada is the fourth largest natural gas producer in the world, with net exports totaling $6.1 billion in 2018. Alberta produces almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in the country. In 2017, the province emitted 35 million tonnes of CO2e from natural gas production and processing. A significant opportunity exists to improve cost competitiveness along Alberta’s natural gas value chain and reduce GHG emissions.
The Government of Alberta is committed to revitalizing Alberta’s natural gas sector. The province is developing and implementing a robust strategy with key recommendations from the 2018 Roadmap to Recovery Report, a document advising the government on reviving Alberta’s natural gas industry.
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT STAGE
Expressions of interest were invited for projects that advance innovation to the stages of field piloting, commercial demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial implementation, as described below: