Federal funding to support new Energy Transition Centre in downtown Calgary


A $3-million federal investment will help open a new specialized office in downtown Calgary to support Alberta’s clean technology sector.

The Energy Transition Centre will move into vacant office space in The Ampersand on 4th Avenue S.W. on March 1, if the COVID-19 situation allows. The space is meant to be a hub for industry giants to meet with emerging businesses developing clean technology solutions.

“This innovation hub will help small- and medium-sized businesses develop clean energy technologies that meet the growing global demand for environmentally friendly energy products and processes,” Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal said at a Wednesday news conference.

“New ideas for how we meet our energy needs will come out of this facility. Innovators, academia and industry will connect to make concepts a reality.”

As many as 25 new businesses could be created through the space over the next three years, Vandal said.

Ottawa is contributing $2.1 million toward the Energy Transition Centre, in support of the University of Calgary and local carbon technology company Avatar Innovations. The remaining $900,000 federal investment is going toward cleantech accelerator Foresight, which will use the funding to train Alberta clean technology organizations and attract investment.

The announcement provides a boost for Calgary entrepreneurs as the city pursues energy transition and downtown revitalization projects, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said.

“Calgary city council envisions our city as a leader in the energy transformation economy,” Gondek said. “There are huge economic and environmental wins within the cleantech industry, and those wins grow exponentially with investments like the one we are seeing today.”

A study conducted on behalf of Calgary Economic Development and energy firm Edmonton Global, released in December, found the global energy transition could create 170,000 jobs in Alberta’s clean technology sector and net $61 billion to GDP by 2050.

That study said those outcomes would require a provincial investment of $2.1 billion per year in the industry by 2030, increasing to $5.5 billion by 2040; Alberta’s current investments into the sector total less than $1 billion per year.

Alberta’s United Conservative government wasn’t involved in Wednesday’s announcement for the Energy Transition Centre, prompting criticisms from the Opposition NDP.

“There is zero investment from the province in this initiative. Why is the UCP ghosting Alberta’s efforts to diversify the economy and promote clean energy?” energy critic Kathleen Ganley said in a news release.

Vandal said the federal government is working with provincial counterparts on initiatives related to economic diversification and clean technology, adding “all levels of government need to be on the same page.” In a statement, an Alberta government spokesperson said the province continues to focus on “protecting the value of our energy and natural resources and getting a fair deal for Albertans.”

“We remain committed to responsible energy development, reducing emissions and supporting jobs,” the province said. “Through innovation and technology, industry can continue to reduce emissions, even with increased oil and gas production.”

Cenovus Energy chief executive Alex Pourbaix stressed the importance of collaboration between the oil and gas industry and governments as work continues into the energy transition.

“Our industry has been engaged in massive collaboration with all levels of government in this quest to decarbonize this industry,” Pourbaix said. “I think this is just another example of a lot of collaboration that goes on every day behind the scenes.”

Twitter: @jasonfherring


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