New $50 million funding opportunity targets natural gas innovation

Emissions Reduction Alberta’s (ERA) new $50 million Natural Gas Challenge will unlock innovation across Alberta’s natural gas value chain, from production to market and all points in between. It supports clean technology projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve the competitiveness of the natural gas industry.

In 2018, Alberta produced almost 70 per cent of the marketable natural gas in Canada. The country is the fourth largest natural gas producer in the world and the value of its net exports was $6.1 billion in 2018. In 2017, Alberta emitted 35 million tonnes of CO₂e from natural gas production and processing. A significant opportunity exists to improve cost competitiveness along Alberta’s natural gas value chain, convert natural gas into value added products, and reduce GHG emissions.

“The $50-million Natural Gas Challenge will strengthen Alberta’s natural gas industry, and tap into a growing global market. This challenge will extract more value from our natural gas products while helping lower our carbon intensity – accelerating innovation and technology, creating jobs, and ensuring the resilience of our natural resource sector.”

Jason Nixon,  Minister of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta

“Supporting innovation is an important part of our strategy to revitalize Alberta’s natural gas sector, create good paying energy jobs, and help Albertans get full value for their natural gas. Initiatives like ERA’s $50 million Natural Gas Challenge gives us the opportunity to accelerate development of technologies that improve the cost, competitiveness, and long-term sustainability of this key sector.”

Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas, Government of Alberta

“Industry and innovators told us that developing and deploying next generation technologies is essential to improving the economic and environmental performance of the entire natural gas value chain. Our $50 million Natural Gas Challenge is designed to identify and deliver solutions to address the challenges faced by the sector.”

Steve Macdonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

“A focus on innovation along the natural gas value chain offers to make Alberta and Canada a more competitive global leader in the delivery of cost-effective, technologically sound, environmentally preferable, solutions to energy challenges the world over. Taking action and advancing the right cleantech innovation to achieve emissions reduction along the natural gas value chain will help Alberta and Canada to achieve its environmental commitments while maintaining the competitive advantage that natural gas provides.”

John Adams, Managing Director Natural Gas Innovation Fund

ERA will fund up to $10 million per project and up to 50 per cent of total project costs. Successful proponents must match ERA’s investment with private funds; making the total investment at least $100 million in potential total project value. Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters (LFE’s) in Alberta, aligned with Alberta’s new Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. ERA is partnering with the Natural Gas Innovation Fund to leverage funding opportunities beyond ERA’s scope and provide innovators with access to potential industry partners and testing facilities.

To inform the scope of the Natural Gas Challenge, ERA hosted a workshop and webinar including innovators, industry, government, and other experts to discuss opportunities to decrease emissions, increase competitiveness, and tackle barriers to advancing technology. Potential opportunities identified include decarbonizing natural gas, reducing methane emissions, and conversion of natural gas into value-added products.

Proposals may be submitted by technology developers, industry, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises, research and development organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profits, and individuals. Partnerships are eligible and encouraged to apply. Eligible technologies can come from anywhere in the world, but projects must be piloted, demonstrated or implemented in Alberta. The application deadline is December 19, 2019 at 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

Submissions will be selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and GHG quantification will conduct an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor. All ERA funding recipients are required to produce a final outcomes report that is shared publicly for the broader benefit of Alberta.

“ERA has provided an integral role in collaborating with industry to advance deployment and demonstration of promising technologies and approaches across multiple sectors that are moving Alberta towards a lower carbon future while sustaining competitiveness.  An ongoing commitment to support for investment in innovation is essential, and the process announced today demonstrates Alberta’s continued leadership.”

Brian Vaasjo, President & CEO, Capital Power

 “ERA’s Natural Gas Challenge aligns with Canadian Natural’s strong commitment to investing in research and development and driving innovation to create value. By working together we can accelerate the development of cost-effective technology solutions while continuously improving environmental performance.”

Joy Romero, Vice President, Technology and Innovation, Canadian Natural Resources Limited

“ATCO has been a provider of essential services and infrastructure to Albertans for more than one hundred years. We know the transition to a lower-emitting energy system is extremely complex and challenging, so we’re proud to partner with Emissions Reduction Alberta on innovative and collaborative projects that work to reduce natural gas’ carbon intensity. We’re excited by the opportunity to commercialize sustainable solutions that make natural gas an even better energy choice for all Albertans. Natural gas delivery and consumption has outpaced other energy solutions because it’s our most competitive energy source. We need to continue to use it through emerging green technologies to reduce our own emissions.”

Graeme Feltham, Vice President, Customer Experience & Innovation, ATCO

 “Opportunities that support innovation and value-added diversification are key to ensuring Alberta realizes the long term economic benefit of the natural gas value chain. With abundant low-cost resources, a skilled workforce, and world-class facilities there is tremendous opportunity for Alberta to compete on a global scale. Funding opportunities like this are critical to helping offset higher capital costs and to attracting investments that will grow Alberta’s economy.”

Tyler Edgington, President, Dow Chemical Canada ULC

“Encouraging investment in the next wave of technological advancements will help Canada’s natural gas industry realize new efficiencies, reduce costs and continue to drive world-leading environmental performance. Projections show the global demand for natural gas will nearly double by 2040, and Canada can play a significant role in meeting this demand with the world’s most responsibly produced energy. The path to meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reduction is through human ingenuity and innovation. Canada’s oil and natural gas industry is proud of our standing as the country’s leading investor in clean technology and environmental protection.”

Terry Abel, Executive Vice President, Canada Operations and Climate, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

 “The most important emerging technologies moving the world to a low-carbon economy use chemistry to do so: green buildings and insulation; transportation innovation such as lighter vehicles, synthetic fuels and batteries; energy advancements in wind and solar; more efficient food packaging and chemical fertilizers; and air conditioning and refrigerant sectors. Alberta and Canada’s chemistry sector are a world leader in low-intensity carbon chemical production. CIAC congratulates the Government of Alberta and Emissions Reduction Alberta for fostering innovation in reducing carbon emissions in the natural gas value chain. The Natural Gas Challenge will deliver lower-carbon natural gas and natural gas liquids and will attract new investment and new jobs adding value to Alberta’s already world-class, low-carbon natural gas resource.”

Bob Masterson, President and CEO, Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC)


For 10 years, ERA has been investing the revenues from the carbon price paid by large final emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since we were established in 2009, we have committed $557 million toward 161 projects worth over $4.3 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta and beyond. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative GHG reductions of 41.3 million tonnes by 2030.