IEA: Canada Needs to Increase Funding For Energy R&D

April 2016, Vol. 243, No. 4

The International Energy Agency says Canada needs to put more public money towards research and development in the energy sector. As noted in a National Observer article, the IEA says the funding injection is needed to make Canada’s oil and gas industry more cost-competitive and reduce its environmental footprint.

“This will contribute to reducing the environmental impact of energy use and production, as well as the cost of natural resource development, notably for oil sands operations,” said the IEA report. In its first in-depth look at Canada’s energy policies since 2009, the IEA says public research funding for the industry is in decline at a time when it’s especially needed.

The report says while Canada’s research funding is large compared with other IEA members, core public funding has dropped from $1.34 billion in 2013-14 to $941.9 million in 2014-15. “The financial resources available for basic, publicly funded energy R&D in Canada are under pressure.”

That decline has been partially offset by short-term, targeted federal programs and funding from provincially owned companies, including spending on carbon capture and storage pilot projects. “The emissions intensity of oil sands production is one of the most important factors in determining the country’s future energy consumption and emission performance,” said the IEA.

Emissions from the oil and gas industry have risen 14% since 2005 and 67% since 1990. They now make up about 25% of Canada’s total emissions, the report said. The IEA also calls for a federal energy research-and-development strategy, especially on clean energy technology, carbon capture and storage, and more environmentally friendly ways of extracting fracking-based tight oil and gas.

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