Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) has $50 million in funding available to advance technology that can help industry reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the cost competitiveness of bitumen production and processing.

The funding is available through the ERA Oil Sands Innovation Challenge. ERA is inviting proposals for technology solutions related to in situ or mined oil sands operations, including both new developments and retrofit opportunities for existing operations. Funding requests up to a maximum of $10 million CAD will be accepted.

“ERA knows that improving both environmental and cost competitiveness is key to the continued success of Alberta’s energy sector,” said ERA CEO Steve MacDonald. “We have worked with our industry partners to identify the gaps that technology can close, and developed this funding opportunity to help accelerate the demonstration, scale-up and deployment of the most promising solutions.”

The focus of the ERA Oil Sands Innovation Challenge is on breakthrough technologies for surface mining as well as in situ operations that are now ready to go to a field pilot, demonstration or first-of-kind technology deployment. The intent is to reduce both greenhouse gases and costs by investing in opportunities including alternative steam generation methods, advanced reservoir production technologies, tailings reductions, improved bitumen upgrading and novel surface mining processes.

ERA will leverage its funding by requiring industry and other partners to at least match this commitment, creating the opportunity for over $100 million in combined new investment.

The ERA funding opportunity supports the recommendations from the Oil Sands Advisory Group’s (OSAG) first report to government. The organization worked with the Government of Alberta, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), and others to develop the ERA Oil Sands Innovation Challenge.

“We know that by focusing on a challenge, and bringing the best minds together to solve that challenge, we can find solutions faster,” says COSIA CEO Dan Wicklum. “Opportunities like ERA’s Oil Sands Innovation Challenge create the kind of innovation stimulus and focused determination that will get us to our emissions reduction goals sooner and reinforces Alberta and the oil sands as leaders in low carbon innovation.”

The Government of Alberta has provided specific statements in its Climate Leadership Plan on the strategies it will pursue to reduce carbon emissions while diversifying the province’s economy. One of several strategies in the plan is capping oil sands emissions to 100 megatonnes per year. This, along with the other ambitious goals set out in Alberta’s climate plan and the climate-related goals of jurisdictions around the world, are achievable only with the deployment of new technologies.

“Albertans were the ones who determined how to get the oil out of the sand and made-in-Alberta innovation is going to get the carbon out of the barrel,” says Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Alberta Minister of Energy. “This is a timely investment that will pay huge dividends in strengthening our province’s position as a leader in responsible energy development.”

The Province of Alberta provides grants to ERA from the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund to enable the organization to fulfil its mandate. Since 2009, ERA has advanced more than 120 projects, investing over $340 million, with a total value of over $2.3 billion. From 2011 to 2021 ERA funded projects will add $1.8 billion to Alberta’s GDP. These investments will also lead to the creation of over 15,000 jobs. Equally important, the projects are estimated to produce cumulative greenhouse gas reductions of 8 megatonnes by 2020 and 27.5 megatonnes by 2030.

The ERA Oil Sands Innovation Challenge will close September 7, 2017. Additional details on the funding opportunity are available on the ERA website: ERAlberta.ca/OilSandsChallenge.