Four Calgary companies will share in nearly $22 million in provincial tech cash to expand or build innovative local environmental solutions.
It was part of a $58 million Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund announcement made by Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Sonya Savage at the Platform Calgary Innovation Centre Monday.
The TIER fund was set up in 2010 through revenues collected via the carbon price on large emitters.
The funding supports 10 Alberta projects and represents $528 million in private investment, according to the province. It was done through the Emissions Reduction Alberta Circular Economy Challenge.
Minister Savage said focusing on circular economy extends a product’s lifecycle through recycling, re-use, upcycling and resource recovery.
“Advancing technology solutions that support a circular economy makes good environmental and economic sense,” she said.
“Circular Economy Challenge projects supported by the TIER fund will help keep valuable materials in the economy and out of landfills, which drives investment, bolsters economic activity, cuts emissions, and creates jobs. It’s a win across the board.”
Justin Riemer, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA), said we need to start thinking about waste as a resource rather than a cost.
“This investment in converting waste into other uses is going to make a real difference,” he said.
The successful projects will, upon completion, employ about 1,800 people and cut emissions by four million tonnes by 2050, Minister Savage said. It’s also reducing a massive volume of waste hitting Alberta landfills.
CO2 cement and asphalt shingle recycling projects in Calgary
Aidan Mills, CEO of Calgary-based Northstar Clean Technologies, said the $7.1 million in provincial funding will go toward a $20.6 million, first-of-its-kind in North America commercial-scale asphalt shingle recycling facility.
He said they expect the project to be commissioned in Q2 2024. Once operational, it will divert 40,000 tonnes of asphalt shingles annually from area landfills. He said that’s the equivalent of about 60,000 barrels of oil.
“We believe this will have a significant contribution to not only the delivery of a lower emissions reduction in Calgary but also in Canada and across North America,” Mills said.
The three-acre project is slated for just outside East Calgary in Rockyview County, on Wrangler Way. The facility will produce 10,000 tonnes of asphalt, 10,000 tonnes of fibre and 20,000 tonnes of aggregate for industrial use.
Ryan Bourns, business development partnerships manager with Carbon Upcycling Technologies, said their technology captures gaseous CO2 in different materials. For this project, they’ll be taking fly ash – a mineral residue left over after the burning of coal – to create a “sponge” that will soak up CO2 emissions. They received $4.4 million from the TIER fund.
With the CO2-embedded fly ash, they’ll create a high-performance substitute for cement. It’s stronger than the material currently used in cement, and they’re close to the same cost, Bourns said.
“We can actually utilize these by-products to create the circular solution that enables meaningful emissions reduction within the industry,” Bourns said.
They currently have a location at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre, at the Shepard Energy Centre in Calgary. It currently produces 20 tonnes of material per day but will be upped to 50 tonnes. The investment will also fund a site west of Edmonton that will produce 100 tonnes a day.
Bourns said the ERA funding shows a commitment to have Alberta-grown tech scaled up into commercial solutions.
Calgary-based Sparks Eggs and Phyto Organix also received TIER funding in the announcement.
Companies are required to produce a publicly-available final outcomes report that shows how the money was used, the GHG reduction, job creation and other environmental benefits.