In my role as chief executive of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), I am privileged to work alongside and witness firsthand the remarkable talent that some of Canada’s brightest engineers, scientists and business people bring to solving the challenges associated with developing our energy resources. Oil sands R&D is rich with individuals whose education and expertise are focused on continuously recreating the oil sands, ensuring it is a viable, sustainable and responsible sector, producing a unique Canadian product, developing and implementing some of the most innovative and leading-edge technology in the world. In fact, just last week the C.D. Howe Institute published a study that shows Calgary, by way of oilsands technology development and patent applications, has become Canada’s most innovate city.
COSIA is proud to play a vital role in this thriving innovation ecosystem, and this March we shared our accomplishments at our fifth annual Performance Update through a virtual conference platform, reflecting on the last five years of collaboration, and environmental innovation in Canada’s oil sands. This year’s virtual conference format resulted in a 52% increase in total attendees over the 2016 performance update, and an exciting 230% increase in non-member attendees over the same period. Not only has engagement continued to grow, more importantly our project portfolio has consistently evolved. Every year since COSIA’s formation in 2012, our project count has gone up, as has the dollar value of our project portfolio. To date, COSIA members have shared 981 distinct environmental technologies and innovations that cost over $1.4 billion to develop. I’m pleased to share our 2017 COSIA Project Portfolio highlighting the extensive project work that’s been undertaken and is underway at COSIA. Click here to see a copy of our current project portfolio.
The results of COSIA member’s purposeful collaboration among oil sands companies and with many 3rd parties, is demonstrated in the 11% reduction in GHG emission intensity from COSIA members’ in situ operations, and the 9% reduction in GHG emission intensity from COSIA members’ mining operations between 2012 and 2016. Over this same time period COSIA companies have reduced their fresh water use intensity at in situ operations by 42% and reduced their net water use intensity from the Athabasca river at mining operations by 18%. I’m proud of these numbers and of the hard work and collaboration that has been required in achieving them. We are making good progress. Many of our innovations are incremental, yet they compound to give marked results. Other innovations are transformative, allowing companies to reduce their GHG emissions dramatically, but we are also working with others to completely reconceptualize emissions. We can look, for example, to the progress being made with the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.
The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is challenging the best minds around the world to compete for a total of US$20 million for innovations that can take carbon and turn it into a valuable resource. That kind of innovation has application far beyond the oil sands industry; in fact, over time it could benefit any country, sector, company or individual producing carbon dioxide. On April 9th, at the Future of Energy Summit in New York City, we announced the ten finalist teams. Five of the ten finalists will test their technology’s ability to consume two tons of CO₂ per day at the Alberta Carbon Conversion Technology Centre (ACCTC). The ACCTC is one of the few places in the world where carbon conversion technologies can be tested at a commercial scale.
Another opportunity for COSIA to facilitate and promote collaboration is our annual Oil Sands Innovation Summit on June 7 & 8 in Calgary. In partnership with Alberta Innovates and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) this annual event puts a spotlight on the very latest research, collaboration and innovation happening in Canada's resource sector. Some of the best minds from industry, academia, engineering and technology providers, and government will present their ideas, progress and results in the areas of greenhouse gas reduction, land and water improvements and tailings management.
The stories of environmental innovation and technological collaboration included in this month’s collaborator demonstrate the pioneering work that continues across Canada’s innovation ecosystem and in Canada’s oil sands.