The report – commissioned by Calgary Economic Development and Global Edmonton – suggests that the global pursuit of climate targets and net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 could be a major boon for the province that still ranks oil and traditional gas as its n ° 1 industry. But the report also warns that if Alberta continues on the status quo path, it will be on track to register 20,000 new jobs and just $ 4 billion in GDP from cleantech sources by 2050.
The study – conducted by Delphi Group, Foresight Canada and Cleantech Group – suggests that the province has the opportunity to leverage its existing assets and infrastructure, as well as its highly skilled workforce, to take advantage of clean technology opportunities such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen production and electrification.
“Alberta’s proven track record of using collaboration, deploying capital and mobilizing resources to execute large-scale transformational projects should not be underestimated,” said the authors of the report. “These assets allow the province to successfully meet its next big challenge, the energy transition.
Alberta is at risk of missing out
The report also suggests that Alberta will need to quickly step up investment in clean technology or risk missing out. It says Alberta will need to invest more than $ 2.1 billion per year in clean technology by 2030, rising to $ 5.5 billion in clean technology by 2040 in order to take full advantage of this. opportunity.
The current level of clean technology investment in Alberta is less than $ 1 billion per year.
The report’s release on Tuesday coincided with the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, Texas, one of the world’s largest energy industry events. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Provincial Energy Minister Sonya Savage were among Alberta officials who came to the event to meet with potential foreign investors and talk about the province’s progress on the front line. clean energy.
“It’s about changing the narrative. Make sure people understand the value proposition that’s happening in Alberta, and Calgary in particular around the energy transition, ”said Brad Parry, Interim President and CEO of Calgary Economic Development, in an interview in Houston, where he also attends the event.
Parry pointed out that there are already 945 clean tech companies in Alberta, working on everything from energy efficiency and developing sustainable fuels to high-tech agricultural solutions.
He added that in 2020, Alberta saw a record year for venture capital investment, with 51 deals totaling $ 455 million in investment, a 100% increase from 2019.
Nonetheless, he recognized that it would be necessary to attract much more foreign direct investment in order to significantly develop businesses and technologies and create jobs.
“It won’t happen overnight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. But capital investment has to happen for us to thrive, ”Parry said.
Additionally, Mayor Gondek says it’s not just big companies, and points out that about half of Alberta’s cleantech companies have been formed by people who are new to the field.
“Twenty-eight percent of people were born outside of Canada and 22 percent of these businesses are run by women, so you can see that diversity and inclusion is something that is playing out in the business sector. clean technologies and we must continue to advance this. “
Positive signal to investors
According to the report’s authors, Alberta is sending a positive signal to cleantech investors with strong public funding programs for emerging technologies and leading research institutions.
The report also suggests that the traditional oil and gas industry is helping by signaling its commitment to decarbonization through initiatives such as the Oil Sands Net Zero Alliance.
However, the report criticizes the steps taken by the current Alberta government to shut down the province’s energy efficiency agency and repeal the consumer carbon tax put in place by the former NDP government.
“Less positive signals are also being sent to investors that could indicate that the energy transition and the serious pursuit of clean technology development are not a priority for Alberta,” the report said.