Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) has selected projects with a combined value of $ 107 million in public and private investment in the forestry, agriculture, and food sectors.
Among the 17 winning projects are some pulp and paper projects that awarded a total of $ 33 million in Alberta government funding.
The challenge received a total of 150 applications, requesting a total of $ 383 million for projects worth $ 1.5 billion. Of the 17 approved projects, four are categorized as natural solutions, seven in the bio-industry and bioenergy sector and six in the agricultural and agri-food sector. If successful, these technological innovations will lead to cumulative greenhouse gas reductions of up to 2.7 million tons of CO2e by 2030.
Funding comes from the Technological Innovation and Emissions Reduction Fund (TIER) and supports innovation in the agricultural, agri-food and forestry sectors. These technologies are in the pilot development, demonstration, or commercial deployment stage for the first time.
“Alberta’s food, farming and forestry sectors are critical to achieving Alberta’s economic and environmental goals and their innovative capacity is world class. The projects announced today will create jobs, attract investment, open new markets and deliver it all with improved environmental performance,” said Steve MacDonald, CEO of ERA.
The winning pulp and paper projects are:
ATCO Gas: RNG from pulp mill waste
Project value: $18.67 million | ERA commitment: $5 million
This project will produce renewable natural gas from the Millar Western Whitecourt pulp mill’s wastewater treatment anaerobic digester. If successful, the project could allow Millar Western to convert approximately 99 percent of the methane in the biogas to RNG, which meets pipeline quality standards and can be delivered within the existing natural gas infrastructure.
The project would lead to emissions reductions by displacing natural gas from the Alberta natural gas network and through a reduction in the amount of electricity used to treat effluent in the aerobic wastewater treatment system. Immediate GHG reduction of 10,000+-plus tCO2e/year are estimated for this project.
FPInnovations: Bio-sourced asphalt from the Canadian forest industry
Project value: $1.25 million | ERA commitment: $350,000
The research firm will develop a bitumen-lignin hot mix asphalt formulation to be used in the paving industry. The process would reduce GHG emissions by replacing some of the non-renewable, fossil-based bitumen with renewable, bio-sourced lignin in asphalt production.
Millar Western Forest Products Ltd.: Application of artificial intelligence at pulp refiners to optimize energy usage and product quality.
Project value: $1.46 million | ERA commitment: $730,000
The Whitecourt mill will use a Pulp Expert System (PES) powered by artificial intelligence (AI) at the refining stage of the pulping process to reduce energy consumption and improve product quality. Once fully implemented, the project is expected to reduce GHG emissions by over 23,000 tCO2e annually through reduced consumption of grid electricity.
“ERA funding is essential in promoting ongoing innovation in the forest industry,” said David Anderson, president and CEO of Millar Western, in a statement. “By enabling investment in novel technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence, ERA will help us to make higher-value products that better meet the needs of international customers, and to keep pushing the boundaries of technological advancement in Alberta. Most important, it will help us optimize use of critical inputs like energy, fibre, and chemicals, and further reduce our carbon footprint.”
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. All recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that will be shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta.
Check the full list of projects in ERA’s website.