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Who should bear the financial risk of flooding? Report lays out three options

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OTTAWA — Federal, provincial and municipal governments can do a better job of protecting homeowners from the escalating financial risks of flooding, says a new report released Tuesday by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

The report, the product of work by a national working group co-chaired by the bureau and the federal Public Safety Department, says the worsening threat means the country has to change how it covers the resulting cost of such disasters.

“Taxpayers cannot continue bailing out people who live on floodplains,” said Craig Stewart, a vice president at IBC and co-chair of the working group.

“We need an alternative, and this report presents three viable options drawing upon international experience.”

About one-fifth of homes in Canada are at risk of overland flooding, while insurance payouts have surged to about $1 billion per year over the past six years, the report estimates. Federal government transfer payments for all forms of flood damage, meanwhile, have quadrupled over the last four decades, reaching about $3.7 billion during the first four years of this decade, compared with just $300 million during the 1970s.

The three options laid out in the report include a pure market approach where risk is borne by homeowners; one in which government is more involved, and finally the creation of a high-risk pool of funds to help manage the financial risk.

All three options are viable, the report says, though its analysis suggests the high-risk scheme fares better than others at meeting certain core principles like affordability, efficiency and financial sustainability. But the report stops short of making a firm recommendation on any of the options.

The advantage of the high-risk scheme is that it allows insurers to pass on some risks to a larger pool of available money. Homeowners would pay premiums for flood insurance, which insurers would then feed into the pool. If a homeowner makes a claim, the insurance company would pay out to the customer and then claim their own reimbursement from the pool.

Homeowners might not even know they’re in the high-risk pool, Stewart said, but it allows insurance companies to avoid some of the risk involved with insuring people whose homes may be flooded.

The cost of the premiums feeding into the pool should be based on the risk of flooding, Stewart said, and if subsidies are capped, the pool will need a source of money to make up the loss.

As for the source of money to get the pool off the ground and keep it sustainable, “It could be anything,” he said, including property taxes or insurance premium levies.

Ideally, Steward said, the scheme would help lower the risk enough so the high-risk pool wouldn’t be necessary. A similar model was implemented in 2016 in the United Kingdom, and has a projected lifespan of 25 years.

“For that to happen,” Stewart cautioned, “you need to have significant government investment in mitigation over those 25 years.”

While the federal government has promised $2 billion for disaster preparedness, the report notes “ongoing funding” is needed.

Stewart said the IBC is currently working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to figure out how much money it will cost to make Canada resilient to flooding, as well as other natural disasters.

More money from government is one of several key factors that the report says are needed to address flood risk in addition to an insurance system.

Another is making sure individuals have an incentive to take action on their own, Stewart said. That means increasing public awareness of risks so homeowners will make their properties more resilient and react to the price of insurance premiums.

Meanwhile, improving the quality of data, like mapping flood risk zones, is “the single greatest thing the federal government can do in the near term,” Stewart said.

Moving people away from high-risk flood zones should be a part of the government’s response as well, he added. Paying people to relocate might be the best way to do that, the report suggests.

Christian Paas-Lang, 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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