I was recently honoured to be named as the Opposition Shadow Minister for Innovation, Science, Economic Development and Internal Trade.
This new role is one I take very seriously and I would like to briefly explain one of the reasons why.
In some ways Canada is at a cross roads.
We have a Prime Minister who believed that if we had a national carbon tax, it would buy social license to support getting a new pipeline to tidewater.
Today we know that plan is failing for a variety of different reasons.
The Prime Minister says he remains committed to getting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion built, despite the fact that a growing number of provinces are rejecting his federally imposed carbon tax.
The important question here is “What are the alternatives?”
This is where innovation, science, economic development and internal trade come in to the picture.
Recently, I learned of a new high tech refinery being built in Alberta. As refineries go this is a small one producing roughly 500 barrels per day.
But what is exciting is this refinery is producing ‘clean diesel’.
What is ‘clean diesel’?
It is a synthetic sulphur-free diesel fuel that is made from a mixture of liquid gas, wood chips and bio solids that has near zero CO2 emissions.
Not only does this fuel meet the low carbon fuel standard target for 2020, the same technology can also be adapted to produce synthetic jet fuel for aviation applications.
Another important consideration is this synthetic fuel is fully compatible with existing engines and requires no costly retro fitting.
Synthetic diesel can also be used as a concentrate. As an example, mixing 20% synthetic diesel with 80% conventional diesel produces a diesel fuel that is well below current European and Californian emission standard levels.
There is also a local connection to this technology.
A company located in the South Okanagan is currently manufacturing some of the equipment to be used at the refinery in Alberta.
With some adaptation, the same technology can also be used to generate electricity.
With a fairly robust supply of wood waste in addition to many local governments struggling to find locations to deal with bio solids, there are opportunities to use these materials to generate electricity.
Currently, there are some exploratory efforts to identify possible locations for such a plant here in the Okanagan.
Synthetic fuels and energy production are obviously only one step in a complex problem but it does clearly illustrate the important role that innovation can play as we look to find lower carbon solutions in our future.
My question this week:
Should the Federal Government encourage development of innovation projects such as this one to reduce our CO2 emissions, instead of imposing carbon taxes?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free a 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.