Working towards a low-carbon future

Tamar Atik
November 27, 2017
Written by
Travis Robinson, Bioenergy Program, CanmetENERGY-Ottawa discussing lessons learned at Bioenergy for the Future conference in Ottawa.
Travis Robinson, Bioenergy Program, CanmetENERGY-Ottawa discussing lessons learned at Bioenergy for the Future conference in Ottawa.
Nov. 27, 2017 - “It’s clear we’re at the threshold of the bio-age,” Kim Rudd, parliamentary secretary to the minister of natural resources, tells the crowd at an industry event held in Ottawa.


Industry members attended Natural Resource Canada's Bioenergy for the Future conference at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier to learn more about the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) most recent publication, Technology Roadmap: How2Guide for Bioenergy

“The IEA studies global energy trends and outlooks and the rollout of the roadmap basically highlights the importance of bioenergy,” said Fernando Preto, a research scientist with CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, NRCan. The roadmap lays out some of the steps to achieve this bioenergy goal, including more international collaboration.

IEA’s Adam Brown outlined four key actions:

1.)   Promote short-term deployment of mature options;

2.)   Stimulate the development and deployment of new technologies;

3.)   Deliver the necessary feedstock sustainably, backed by a supportive sustainability governance system;

4.)   And the need to develop capacity and catalyze investment via international collaboration.

Brown said a stable policy environment is vital for all of these bioeconomy initiatives to work. The ideal policy landscape requires a level playing field, a low-risk investment climate and catalyzing and supporting innovation, he said.

Enerkem’s Marie-Hélène Labrie presented on the company’s success scaling up its municipal waste-to-energy technology. It makes transportation fuels and chemicals from garbage instead of petroleum by chemically recycling carbon contained in garbage in less than five minutes. 

Enerkem’s approach was successful because it focused on municipal solid waste as the feedstock from the outset, Labrie said. The company then worked to leverage commercially available catalysts, like the Enerkem Alberta Biofuels facility, to reach its goal.

Enerkem wants waste to be seen as a resource to make sustainable products.

photo1“They’ve done just about anything they could do right. Now they’re reaping the rewards of that tenacity,” Travis Robinson from the Bioenergy Program, CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, said of Enerkem’s success.
“If all the bioenergy companies out there were like Enerkem, things would be very easy,” he said. “We’d probably have a lot more bio-products on the market today.”

Any successful scaling-up story had issues first that were overcome in order to reach that success, Robinson said.

Photo: CanmetENERGY-Ottawa's Fernando Preto (left) and Travis Robinson speaking in Ottawa.

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