By November 14, 2016 Read More →

Canadian innovators seeking sustainable energy solutions and $20 million prize

sustainable energy

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPrize an initiative launched to discover sustainable energy solutions where competitors look to turn CO2 from waste into an asset.

9 Canadian teams move forward in competition to discover sustainable energy solutions

By Eric Beynon

TORONTO, Ont. / Troy Media/ – Critical steps are being taken by world leaders to address climate change – and politicians aren’t the only ones taking huge strides in the search for sustainable energy solutions.

The annual global climate change conference is underway in Morocco. At home, Prime Minister Trudeau has declared there will be a price on carbon. These are critical steps.

So too are those being taken by others. Several years ago, a number of energy industry and innovation experts came together to contemplate a future of affordable and reliable energy that doesn’t harm the climate.

They started asking big questions, such as:

  • What if we could turn carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading contributor to climate change and the byproduct of our fossil fuel use, from a waste into an asset.
  • What if we could engage innovators around the world to try to tackle this challenge?

Last year, Canadian and U.S. partners launched a bold initiative: a global competition with $20 million in prize money for the best technologies that convert CO2 into valuable and useful products, such as building materials, chemicals and alternative fuels.

The NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is a global shout from the mountaintops for innovators to develop revolutionary ideas to reimagine CO2 and help mitigate the impact of fossil fuel. Forty-seven entries from around the globe were received and Canadian entrepreneurs are competing alongside the world’s best. In October, the semifinalists were announced and nine from across Canada are among the 27 teams moving forward.

There are 7.3 billion people on Earth. Most aspire to the lifestyle of the western world. We must find a sustainable energy future as we move towards nine billion-plus people in 2050.

Expansion of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar is critical. But fossil fuels will remain part of the world’s energy mix for the foreseeable future.

Between 2005 and 2013, China added the equivalent of 1.5 times the existing coal generating power in the United States.

India, with a population of 1.25 billion people, wants to replicate China’s growth. Substantial commitments to renewable energy have been made, but India is also on track to build 455 new coal plants. For perspective, Canada has just 15 operational coal-fired power stations.

The challenge these investments pose to the climate is staggering. New approaches to reduce the impact of this fossil fuel use are essential if significant carbon reductions are to be made. Policy approaches like cap and trade and carbon taxes are not enough.

Large-scale prize competitions have a long history of bringing about ground-breaking innovation:

  • Two hundred years ago, Napoleon offered a prize for food preservation in an effort to feed his troops. The winning technology was canning, still in use today.
  • Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris was spurred by a $25,000 prize for the first successful flight between the two cities.
  • The $10-million Ansari XPRIZE competition for the first private space flight kick-started the private space industry that now includes Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

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