January 05, 2016

“Big Oil” Leads in Innovations and Renewable Energy

Canada’s oil and gas industry is all-too-often maligned as being at best disinterested in doing more about climate change and, at worst, actively working against those who would “save the planet.”

Time and again, we hear the industry’s opposition decry producers for ignoring its impact on our environment. That is untrue.

The fact is Canada’s oil and gas producers have been leading the way on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the development of renewable energy and emissions-reduction technology long before anyone thought of using the term “green economy.”  The men and women who work in the industry have the forethought, expertise, and resources to invest in innovations on a scale unmatched by any other industry or organization. “Big Oil” is big into green energy technology.

Enbridge, an oil and gas pipeline company and proponent for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project, has invested nearly $5 billion into renewable energy projects since 2002, including wind, solar, waste heat, and geothermal. With its latest investment of $200 million in a 103 megawatt wind farm, the company is now invested in nearly 2,200 megawatts of renewable power generation. That’s enough low-emission power to supply electricity to anywhere from 800,000 to 1.8 million homes.

Suncor, the single largest synthetic crude oil producer in Alberta’s oil sands, operates Canada’s largest ethanol production plant near Sarnia, Ontario with an annual production capacity of more than 400 million litres. It operates eight wind farms in Canada with a total of nearly 200 megawatts of generation capacity and is planning a sizeable investment in solar energy in Ontario.

And TransCanada gets fully two-thirds of its 12,000 megawatt total power generation capacity from low- and non-emitting sources.

The opponents of the oil and gas industry’s poster child for climate change – Alberta’s oil sands – have become increasingly greener.

Through the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, Canadian oil and natural gas companies have invested more than $1.3 billion so far to develop and share 814 distinct technologies and innovations to reduce industry’s environmental impact on land, water, tailings and GHGs. Since 1990 GHG emissions associated per barrel of oil sands crude produced have been reduced by 30 per cent. 

Facts such as these aren’t commonly known and inconsistent with the narrative that the problem is “Big Bad Oil,” whose interests opponents insist are diametrically opposed to advancing innovative and renewable energy. That is simply not true and Canada’s oil and gas industry has the track record to prove it. 

By Brad Tennant, Energy Citizens.

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Energy Citizens is a grassroots program operated by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers