Canada’s Life Cycle Clean Fuels Policy Game Changer

There are seven types of pollution caused in the life cycle of the production and utilization of energy: abiotic depletion; acidification; eutrophication; global warming; human toxicity; ozone layer depletion; and terrestrial ecotoxicity, and we focus almost exclusively on carbon.

On December 9, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the most important energy and environmental policy announcement in half a century with his pledge to create a national clean fuel standard “based on life cycle analysis”.

The proposed standard has to be negotiated with the provinces and territories and it will apply to “many sectors” beyond transportation, including home and building heating and industrial power, with a draft to be circulated in February 2017.

Just three days before this policy announcement, in a December 6, 2016, letter from the Alberta Minister of Energy I received in reply to my previous email about life cycle energy policy, subsidies, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade, and the energy policy mistakes made in Ontario to the Premiers of Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC, the Minister said:

“Regarding your comments about Ontario's electricity industry, we are exploring policy options that are very different from those that Ontario chose, such as using a competitive procurement approach for renewable energy in Alberta. This bidding approach will use market competition to find lowest-cost renewable energy projects.”

Research showing the key life cycle numbers for fossil fuel, green energy and superior benefits for ammonia (NH3) production and utilization in agriculture, energy and utilities, and transportation systems was completed in June 2016, by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UIOT) and Hydrofuel Inc., and released at the 13th NH3 Fuel Conference, at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, on September 20, 2016.

As a result of this new life cycle clean fuel policy ammonia instantly becomes an even more viable candidate than we have reported in the first three articles in this series.

In the first article, Transport Ammonia not Crude — An Alternative view on Pipelines, Hydrofuel Inc. chief scientist Frank Raso and I wrote that rather than building more infrastructure to export unrefined oil commodities, it would be wiser to instead manufacture high value anhydrous ammonia (NH3) from Canadian natural gas, petroleum and renewable energy resources.

In the second article, Green Ammonia – Carbon-Free Fuel and Energy Storage, UOIT’s Dr. Ibrahim Dincer and I wrote that there are dozens of NH3 production and utilization technologies available: with demonstrations underway for cars in Canada, the United States, Italy and South Korea; hybrid ammonia buses in China; engines patented by UOIT, Toyota and others; and solar-ammonia, wind-to-ammonia, and waste-to-ammonia energy storage, fuel and fertilizer plants in the U.S., E.U. and Australia.

In the third article, Canada's Ammonia Energy Option, U.S. Clean Air Task Force Senior Advisor Dr. Steve Wittrig and I wrote about the huge advantages virtually every province and territory in Canada had with a combination of fossil fuel and/or renewable energy that could be developed at much higher profit with much lower environmental impact when involving the use of ammonia in the mix, either utilizing the carbon for profit instead of emitting it or storing excess and off peak electricity for use as fuel or fertilizer.

With recent news that Bill Gates $Multi-Billion Breakthrough Energy Coalition fund now targets carbon-free ammonia, the University of Minnesota’s Ammonia Program is moving to low cost green NH3 production technologies and dual fuel engines for farm equipment, and the much more frequent announcements of other breakthroughs in this field, Canada’s advantage could grow because of the new life cycle policy.

While you may or not agree with the economics or benefits of a carbon tax or cap and trade system, it is at least a move in the right direction, and they can quickly be fine tuned as need be. That is what happened with the life cycle clean fuel policy before it had even been fully formulated or implemented, as all governments in Canada will soon realize.

by Frank Raso & Greg Vezina
Fourth in a series of four articles for OLM by Greg Vezina, Chairman, Hydrofuel Inc. and three previous article guest contributors, Frank Raso, Chief Scientist, Hydrofuel Inc., Dr. Ibrahim Dincer, UOIT, and Dr. Steve Wittrig, Senior Advisor, Advanced Energy Systems, U.S. Clean Air Task Force.