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Environment

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

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EDMONTON — Environmental groups targeted by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney are shrugging off the new government’s promised $30-million “war room” to fight criticisms of the province’s energy industry.

“The war room makes for good theatre, but the people who follow this closely are going to look at this as amateur hour,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

“Chasing environmentalists might play well politically, but it’s not actually relevant to the discussion that Alberta and Canada need to be having,” added Simon Dyer of the clean-energy think tank Pembina Institute.

Both groups have been singled out by Kenney as examples of ones distorting the truth about the impact of the oilsands. The premier has said government staff will be tasked with responding quickly to what he calls myths and lies.

Kenney has also promised to fund lawsuits against offending environmentalists and to call a public inquiry into the role of money from U.S. foundations.

“Stay tuned,” Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Tuesday. “We’ll have something to talk about next week.”

Environmental groups have already been discussing informally what the United Conservative government might have in mind and how they should react.

“We’ve been contacted,” said Devon Page of Ecojustice, an environmental law firm. “We’ve been saying to the groups, ‘We’re here. We’ll respond and represent you as we have in the past.’

“What we’re trying hard not to do is to do what I think the Kenney government wants, which is to get distracted.”

Dyer and Stewart said their groups are about 85 per cent funded by Canadians. The Pembina Institute was founded in Drayton Valley, Alta., and its headquarters remain in Calgary.

Both called the war room political posturing aimed at the party’s base.

“A lot of the rhetoric around our work and our contribution to Alberta has been based on complete misinformation,” said Dyer, who pointed out Pembina has worked with virtually every major energy company in the province.

Stewart called the threats a rerun of the 2012 campaign against environmental groups fuelled by the right-wing The Rebel media group and led by Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives.

“We learned to play rope-a-dope,” said Stewart. “Stephen Harper was our best recruiter.

“We had people contacting us saying, ‘How do I lie down in front of a bulldozer?’ We don’t usually get a lot of those calls but we were getting a lot of those calls.”

Each group is confident in the accuracy of the facts it cites. Dyer said Pembina research has been used by investors, academics and governments.

Stewart said the issue isn’t facts, but how they are understood. 

“Often what it is is a disagreement over which fact is important. Industry will say, ‘We’re reducing emissions per barrel.’ We’ll say, ‘Emissions are going up.’ Both statements are true and it depends which you think is more important.”

Cara Zwibel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the Kenney government must tread carefully. It’s OK to defend your position, but not to threaten, she said.

“If we’re talking about initiating lawsuits against individuals or organizations on the basis of speaking out on issues of public importance, then that raises serious problems,” she said. “Then we have a much more obvious impact and potential violation on freedom of expression.”

The province could possibly expose itself to legal action if its statements harm a group or individual — say, by putting them at the centre of a Twitter firestorm, said an Edmonton lawyer.

“There’s certainly some kind of moral responsibility in terms of understanding that kind of highly charged rhetoric,” said Sean Ward, who practises media law. “You have to understand the consequences that are likely to follow.”

Ward said any cases the government funds would also be tough to win. 

“There are a lot of available defences. It’s difficult to see that this sort of general debate they’re going to be able to shut down with defamation law.”

Environmentalists say their response will be to avoid distraction and carry on.

“The vast majority active in this place don’t want to go back to a high conflict, polarizing environment,” Dyer said. “We’re not interested in polarizing this debate.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press



Business

Changing of the Tides – How One Alberta Company Is Driving Hydrokinetic Power

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The energy conversation has been a polarized debate for years and continues to hit headlines. The clean energy industry is driven by forward-thinking individuals who have one common goal, transitioning from traditional energy sources to a more sustainable form of energy. Now in 2020, we have more oil than we know what to do with, an unprecedented amount of unused facilities that require cleanup, and jobs being lost daily. We exist in a time where competition drives innovation, demonstrating proof of concept is essential to drive investment and still, unable to see eye to eye for a common approach. Let me ask you this, is it problematic for us as a society to hold onto previous conceptions of clean energy projects, regardless of what type? 

Jupiter Hydro was founded in September 2010 by Co-CEO Ross Sinclaire in Calgary, Alberta. Their main focus is in-stream hydrokinetic power generation. Co-Ceo Bob Knight joined the team later in their development. If you have read into hydropower in the past, you may be aware of this type of power generation. Jupiter Hydro has taken the benefits of traditional hydropower and combined their unique technology to produce a far more cost-effective and sustainable form of hydrokinetic power generation. 

Like any new technology that works to produce power in a non-traditional method, Jupiter Hydro has gone through three phases over a decade that has brought them a unique opportunity in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy scheduled for later in 2020. Beginning with testing their hypothesis, proving the theory of generating rotational power utilizing an Archimedes screw presented to fluid flow at an angle was tested in an irrigation channel. With promise in their theory, they move to test their methodology developed to quantify produced power was developed using a rudimentary test tank and 3D printed screws. Mounting systems were developed and fabrications were created with cost-effective materials. In 2012, testing at the University of Calgary’s test tank began to quantify torque characteristics and confirmed blade pitch and presentation characteristics. Both the horizontal orientation and longitudinal orientation of the screw were tested, giving insight into a highly effective angle for their Archimedes screw.

Open Water Testing

Crucial for any proof of concept in hydrokinetic power generation, Jupiter Hydro began their open water testing in 2013 in the Fraser River in BC. Early tests allowed discrepancies to be addressed with submerged generators and confirmed scalability for the technology for the team. Their second open water test addressed the longitudinal placement of their Archimedes screw while testing a swing arm in open water. With support from the Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Test Center, they had their third and fourth test at the facility to demonstrate the technology to identify flow clearances for their swing arm. They recorded nearly 50% efficiency and formed the basis of their current design for the upcoming Bay of Fundy project.

 

Defining In-Stream Hydrokinetics

In-stream hydrokinetics can be defined as harnessing the natural flow of water to provide rotational power. “In-stream” means that no containment or diversions are required, meaning that obstruction of the water flow is not required; be it a river, dam outflow, canal, or tidal flow. No dams or penstocks are required, and water flow is not restricted. If we consider that there are over 8500 named rivers in Canada according to the WWF, with the addition of ocean currents or any source of flowing water, the resources are huge for this technology. 

Key Innovation

If we visit the pros and cons that have been put on traditional hydro, we tend to lie on the outstanding cons that have given the industry a black eye over the last decade. As mentioned previously, competition drives innovation, to which Jupiter Hydro has adapted previous technology with a new methodology to produce a new in-stream power generation. Through multiple test phases and focusing on being cost-effective, they have created patented technology to produce power utilizing the 2,000 year old Archimedes screw with a pitch of 60% of the diameter and angled at 30 degrees to the flow to produce high torque power from the in-stream flow. Traditionally, hydropower would require a permanent infrastructure and there is a risk for large scale remediation. Jupiter Hydro does not require any permanent infrastructure and thus they do not require any remediation from environmental disturbance. 

Environmental Impact

With the majority of power generating technologies, lowering the environmental impact can be one of the prominent challenges even for clean energy. If we address the main environmental concerns with hydropower, it consists of concerns of remediation of land, impacts on fish, sourcing of materials, and noise pollution. Jupiter Hydro has effectively addressed these concerns with mitigating the risk for potential investors and the societal impact of driving clean energy into the future. They have the ability to provide remote sites with dependable power without the need for extensive shore infrastructure or changes to the channel flow. The technology can provide clean power in areas historically powered by diesel generators or bio-mass. Their system in rivers can provide “base line” dispatchable power, one of the key requirements for a 100% renewable energy system. 

Bay of Fundy Project

On July 3, 2019 Jupiter Hydro Inc. was granted a 2 MW demonstration permit and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in the Bay of Fundy by the Nova Scotia Government. This area has seen other tidal power companies like Cape Sharp Tidal and Minas Tidal and have attempted to crack into the Bay of Fundy’s 2,500-megawatt potential. The terms for Jupiter Hydro is for three sets of 5 years, totaling a 15-year project to be launched later in the year. In the image below you can see their in-stream hydrokinetic tidal platform that will be used in the 2 MW project.

Due to issues relating to the ongoing pandemic, the date of this project remains currently unknown. We look forward to future updates from Jupiter Hydro and their success in the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia hit a milestone last year for reaching 30% of its energy produced by renewable sources. They continue to be a key driver for this industry.

“Energy that doesn’t cost the earth”

If you would like to learn more about Jupiter Hydro, check out their website here.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

(This article was originally published on May 4, 2020.)

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Alberta

NOVA Chemicals partnership looking to solve massive problem of plastics waste!

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NOVA Chemicals and Enerkem Collaborate to Close the Loop on Plastics Recycling

Research Seeks New Way to Reduce Waste to Landfill and Drive Zero Plastic Waste

Two Canadian companies will collaborate on innovative technology to close the loop on recycling and drive a plastics circular economy. NOVA Chemicals Corporation (“NOVA Chemicals”), a leading producer of chemicals and plastic resins, and Enerkem Inc. (“Enerkem”), a world-leading waste to renewable fuels and chemicals producer, have entered into a joint development agreement to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene, a basic building block of plastics.

Working together, the companies will research advanced recycling technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, including items such as plastics, household waste, and construction materials, into ethylene at full commercial scale. Ethylene, produced from waste, would advance a plastics circular economy and help meet consumer brand goals for recycled content in packaging.

Advanced recycling technologies are a necessary component of moving to zero plastic waste by creating valuable new feedstocks from post-use plastics that cannot be easily mechanically recycled. The quality of polymers produced with advanced recycling products is indistinguishable from those made from 100 percent virgin, fossil-based feedstocks.

“We are excited to work with Enerkem to create innovative, sustainable solutions for a plastics circular economy,” said Todd Karran, president and CEO, NOVA Chemicals. “Our R&D teams will collaborate to develop game changing technology to push the boundaries for recycling waste to create new feedstocks and bring value to the environment, economy and society.”

Enerkem is the first company in the world to produce renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste at full commercial scale. Its current technologies replace the use of fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas to produce sustainable transportation fuels and chemicals that are used in a broad range of everyday products.

“We are delighted to team up with NOVA Chemicals to collaborate on new technology for waste-to-ethylene feedstock to solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,” said Dominique Boies, CEO and CFO, Enerkem. “This strategic partnership will allow us to explore the development of new products and expand our offering in pursuit of the circular economy.”

Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Enerkem’s Vice President of Technology Strategy & Deployment, added “With over 20 years of technology development, we have built a robust gasification platform to turn waste and biomass into fuels and chemicals with high carbon efficiency. Enerkem’s technology has the scale and versatility to supply raw materials for the circular and decarbonized chemical industry that is being created now. Not just for plastics but also for many other chemical ingredients that are vital for everyday life.”

NOVA Chemicals is committed to enabling 100 percent of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030; and 100 percent of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. “This research is one of the ways NOVA Chemicals is innovating to recapture the value of plastic products and create a world free of plastic waste,” said Karran. “Working together, we can shape a world that is better tomorrow than it is today,” he added.

About NOVA Chemicals Corporation
NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals and plastic resins that make everyday life healthier, easier and safer. Our employees work to ensure health, safety, security and environmental stewardship through our commitment to Sustainability and Responsible Care®. NOVA Chemicals, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is wholly-owned ultimately by Mubadala Investment Company of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Visit NOVA Chemicals on the Internet at www.novachem.com.

About Enerkem

Enerkem produces advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals from biomass and residual material. Its disruptive proprietary technology converts non-recyclable, non-compostable solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemicals. Headquartered in Montréal, Québec, Canada, Enerkem operates a full-scale commercial facility in Alberta as well as an innovation centre in Québec. Enerkem’s facilities are built as prefabricated systems based on modular manufacturing infrastructure that can be deployed globally. Enerkem’s technology is a prime example of how a true circular economy can be achieved by diversifying the energy mix and by making everyday products greener while offering a smart, sustainable alternative to landfilling and incineration.

www.enerkem.com

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