This week Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) invested more than $33 million in clean-energy and energy-efficiency startup companies, as part of a larger $61.8 million round of support for the clean-tech sector that included projects in mining and agriculture. The Government of Canada funds SDTC.
In each case, industry partners contributed funding alongside the SDTC investment, as part of a financing coalition to help bring promising made-in-Canada technologies to market. Here’s where this week’s energy-specific investments went, and why:
WHO: Atlantis Resources Corporation, Halifax, Nova Scotia
INVESTMENT: $5 million
WHAT: Tidal-power turbine demonstration
WHY: Tides in the Bay of Fundy could produce 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy; however, the currents are very aggressive, presenting significant engineering challenges. Atlantis Resources is developing a tidal generator suited for this harsh environment – and able to withstand challenging conditions around the world.
WHO: Airex Industries, in Laval, Quebec
INVESTMENT: $2.7 million
WHAT: Biomass Torrefaction Demonstration Plant
WHY: Airex has developed a torrefaction—or roasting—process to produce bio-coal from Canada’s abundant supply of waste biomass. It could be an ideal supplement to conventional coal and heavy fuel oil. Bio coal could be made from a variety of available and renewable biomasses, burns clean, and delivers more energy than wood pellets in industrial use.
WHO: Borealis Geopower, Calgary, Alberta
INVESTMENT: $2.4 million
WHAT: Optimized geothermal exploration
WHY: The Canadian Geothermal Association estimates that there is 5 GW worth of readily-accessible high-temperature geothermal resources in Canada, mostly in British Columbia. But getting at it is very costly. Borealis developed a carefully ordered set of processes and technologies intended to build up an increasingly accurate picture of a geothermal resource, so that production wells are only drilled in the most promising sites.
WHO: Canada Lithium, Toronto, Ontario
WHAT: QLI lithium metal pilot plant
INVESTMENT: $6.5 million
WHY: The company is developing a technology to produce lithium metal, a component of electric vehicle batteries, with energy cost savings of up to 30 percent through the use of an alternative organic-based electrolytic cell and lower-temperature processing. The lithium metal produced will be of higher purity and cost 15 percent less than that from conventional sources. This new technology has the potential to reduce battery costs, thereby increasing the rate of EV uptake.
WHO: Développement Effenco, Montreal, Quebec
WHAT: Engine-off hybrid system for heavy duty utility trucks
INVESTMENT: $1.8 million
WHY: The company’s Engine-Off technology shuts off a truck’s engine when stopped, then uses energy stored from braking to power hydraulic equipment such as a garbage compactor. It’s expected to reduce energy losses related to idling, resulting in estimated fuel savings of as much as 25 percent.
WHO: Diacarbon Energy, Burnaby, British Columbia
WHAT: Demonstration bio-coal production facility
INVESTMENT: $1 million
WHY: Diacarbon’s thermal biomass refinery converts biomass into carbon-neutral bio-coal, bio-oil, and syngas. Bio-coal yields more energy than the wood pellets commonly used as a coal alternative, making it ideal for heat and power producers such as cement factories, combined heat and power (CHP) and district heating applications as well as coal-fired power generators.
WHO: Eocycle, Levis, Quebec
WHAT: Transverse flux permanent magnet high-torque low-speed generator for large wind turbines
INVESTMENT: $6 million
WHY: Turbine manufacturers are looking for solutions that increase efficiency, reliability and cost-competitiveness. Current gearboxes add weight, increase systems’ inefficiency and have high maintenance costs. Capital costs for wind turbines are also driven by the price of magnet, which increased approximately 400 percent between 2007 and 2011. Eocycle’s high torque-low speed generator eliminates the need for a multi-stage gearbox and features a smaller generator. Turbines will weigh 26 percent less and use 50 percent less magnetic mass, resulting in a 25 to 35 percent generator unit cost reduction compared to the closest competing technology.
WHO: GHGSat, Montreal, Quebec
WHAT: Satellite-based remote emissions-sensing solution
INVESTMENT: $2 million
WHY: GHGSat is developing a satellite-based remote sensing technology designed to monitor individual industrial facilities in regulated industries including oil sands, power generation and waste management. Based on estimates of industry’s ability and motivation to implement emissions reduction programs facilitated by the accurate and near-real time data, GHGSat anticipates environmental benefits totalling over 200 kilotonnes of greenhouse gases by 2020, in addition to corresponding reductions of SOx and NOx of over 300 tonnes and 30 tonnes respectively.
WHO: Power Measurement, Burnaby, British Columbia
WHAT: Demonstration of smart controller for electrical substations
INVESTMENT $1.7 million
WHY: Electricity grids are seeing larger conventional and new demands such as the growing use of electric vehicles. To meet these challenges, grid operators are adjusting to the need of incorporating distributed generation, which risks producing damaging power surges. Power Measurement Ltd. is developing a Smart Controller for Electrical Substations, which will provide the real-time ability to switch the source of electricity between the grid, distributed generation or storage.
WHO: Solar Ship, Toronto, Ontario
WHAT: Steinback demonstration project
INVESTMENT: $2.2 million
WHY: Solar Ship is developing a hybrid aircraft technology that moves cargo to and from remote communities. The ship uses two electric motors powered by solar cells and a fuel-powered combustion engine. Its unique wing-shaped design uses an aerofoil geometry and buoyant gas for aerodynamic lift, lessening the need for road and ground infrastructure.
WHO: Venmar CES, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
WHAT: smART A/C system
INVESTMENT: $2 million
WHY: Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems can account for up to 55 percent of total building energy consumption. The company is commercializing a building comfort system that promises significantly increased energy efficiency while simultaneously controlling supply air humidity. This system promises operating efficiencies up to 40 percent better than state-of-the-art systems currently on the market, or three times better than conventional systems.