Labour, Field Test Support Seen As Priorities For New Provincial Government


Note: This story, which is gathering election reaction related to low carbon solutions, will be updated throughout the day so please do return here to read about other perspectives.

Danielle Smith’s victory speech after her party’s re-election to power described use of emerging technologies, to achieve a “meaningful reduction in emissions.”

But this sector is going to need help getting there. Nannette Ho-Covernton, who works in sustainability for Spartan Controls and plays a role in multiple industry associations, sees several areas in which the newly-formed provincial government should take notice.

The first area she flagged in a conversation with the DOB the morning after the election was labour.

“As I see these post-secondaries and students not attracted to the energy industry, I scratch my head and wonder going ‘what have we done wrong?’” she said. “Are there other ways to ensure to keep the talent? We have lost quite a few over the years due to the downturn. How do we bring them back?”

Ho-Covernton serves as an advisor with Avatar Innovations. Through its perspective, in addition to concerns related to talent, she said it sees a need for heighted access to risk capital, modernization of Alberta’s research capabilities to support innovators, and to “build a more collaborative working relationship with other jurisdictions to promote investment.”

Wearing her Spartan hat, Ho-Covernton says the ability to unleash difference-making technology requires attention.

The company has a suite of technologies that can abate 100 megatonnes, which she called “significant.”

“How do we get to deployment? Is that policy? Is it funding? That needs to be unlocked.”

Noting this is her personal opinion, Ho-Covernton said Canada needs to be the first to adopt new technologies.

“Why build it in Canada and deploy it in the U.S. and not in Canada first? Why is Canada always second? And that’s because we are averse to risk,” she added.

Speaking to methane-reducing technologies, Soheil Asgarpour, president and chief executive officer at Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) said he would like to see the government continue to help small-and-medium sized enterprises to field test and increase market uptake of their technologies.

“Government help would be extremely important,” he said. “Be it for the field testing, be it for increasing the market uptake of these technologies and continue on that path …”

He singled out the idea of a tax credit. 

“There are numerous ways government can provide incentives for reduction of those methane emissions.”

Sara Hastings-Simon, department of Geoscience and School of Public Policy, director, MSc Sustainable Energy Development Program at the University of Calgary, said “it is a little hard to know exactly where this government will go,” when asked about her expectations of the newly-re-elected provincial government’s approach to clean-technology and new energy.

“It wasn’t a big topic during the election and there are not a lot of specific policies that I can really point to, to say where they might go.”

The Government of Alberta does not change the macro trends seen around the world when it comes to an accelerating pace of decarbonization and cost reduction in low-carbon technologies, she noted.

“I look at some of what is happening in Texas, when it comes to really [what] I think can be described as a concerted effort to slow the pace of renewable energy development there, with some concern, and hopefully that is not something that we will see moving forward within Alberta,” said Hastings-Simon.

“Obviously the province has seen billions of dollars in investment coming in to develop renewable energy technologies in the last few years, really just on the strength of their underlying economics. That brings jobs, and an ongoing tax base for many rural municipalities, as well.”

Going forward, those involved in cleantech will want to hear from their provincial government about concepts that will lead to investor confidence, said Hastings-Simon.

“I think across the cleantech sector … one of the first and foremost is just policy certainty and policy stability,” she added. “Staying the course that the province has already set up with carbon pricing for industrial emissions and an increasing carbon price out to 2030, I think it will be really important for investor confidence that doesn’t change.

“That is probably one of the biggest things that I think can either encourage investment or discourage it, if things are changing. I’m sure that different sectors will be looking for direct support in different ways and it is not really clear what form that will take at this point.”

John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) added: “There is vast potential for nuclear energy to play a central role in Alberta's energy future. Nuclear can provide emissions free power to the grid, dramatically reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector, and produce clean hydrogen for industry and transport — all while providing long-term, high quality jobs.

"Each province in Canada will chart its own path forward in the clean energy transition, but Alberta is unique in that it's already an energy powerhouse. By building on generations of energy expertise, the province is well-positioned to grow into a leader in nuclear for power and industry in Western Canada."


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