Alberta has been given a thumbs up from a national agency for its success in curbing greenhouse gas emissions, while the fate of the agency behind the programs remains in limbo under the UCP government.
Energy Efficiency Alberta generated $850 million in economic growth for the province over two years, the agency’s annual report suggested.
The report also highlights $692 million in energy savings, a total calculated as the “lifetime value” of those savings.
Efficiency Canada — an independent non-profit that works with governments and agencies — noted the agency’s programs eliminated a potential 5.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Corey Diamond, executive director of Efficiency Canada, said Alberta’s energy efficiency sector is booming.
“Alberta’s actually keeping up with many of the provinces,” Diamond said. “Within just two years, to see them playing at a similar level as many of the provinces that have been doing it for 20 years, it’s impressive to us.”
Diamond noted that Alberta was the last jurisdiction in North America to have an energy efficiency program.
Each province is doing solid work, he said, with B.C. and Nova Scotia doing “exceptional things” through a mix of strong policies and well-performing programs.
In the same period between April 2017 and March 2019, Alberta’s programs returned $3.20 to the economy for every $1 invested.
Yet the programs under a UCP government remain in limbo.
The former NDP government created the agency and funded it through the provincial carbon tax, which the UCP axed after it won the April election.
In an emailed statement, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon said the government is reviewing the agency to determine “what is possible given the province’s overall financial picture.”
“Albertans have made it resoundingly clear that they are not interested in government spending their hard-earned tax dollars on low-flow showerheads and light bulbs.”
CleanO2 uses chemistry to reduce emissions from furnaces and water heaters while also producing marketable chemical products.
During an almost disastrous science experiment involving his natural gas-fired furnace, Jaeson Cardiff nearly blew up his house.
“Who doesn’t just happen to have sodium hydroxide in their basement?” joked Cardiff, the CEO and co-founder of CleanO2, who had been tinkering with an early version of a device he built to capture the CO2 that emits from the gas-fired appliance. “I didn’t think. I just threw it in,” he said.
The combination of sodium hydroxide and aluminum, his top chemist later informed him, produces hydrogen gas. And hydrogen gas in the presence of fire — triggered by the ignition on the furnace — can explode.
“Don’t ever do that,” said Kathi Fischer, the chief science officer and co-founder at CleanO2, who helped Cardiff avoid catastrophe and also contributed in finding the right mix of chemicals for the company’s small-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) device that now, years and multiple iterations later, is called CARBiNX.
By the end of the year, the devices will be installed in 32 different locations in Calgary, Vancouver and Minneapolis after successful pilot projects in the past few years with utility firms ATCO Ltd., FortisBC and UK-based retailer Lush Cosmetics.
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