• World Biz Magazine

CANADIAN GAS INNOVATION: A PATH TO LONG-TERM ENERGY SECURITY FOR EUROPE



Thought leadership feature by John Adams (President & CEO NGIF Capital and Managing Partner NGIF Cleantech Ventures.


Canada’s gas industry is determined to step forward in the present moment and help our allies in Europe and markets around the world realize a more secure energy future, one where more and more people have the benefits of clean, affordable, reliable natural gas that have served Canadians so well for so many decades.

In the wake of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Canada recently announced the creation of a special working group with the European Union on how the two parties might cooperate on energy, particularly the so-called green transition, and LNG. The announcement points to the necessary link between natural gas and a secure energy future. It also points to how Canada’s gas innovation agenda is central to that secure energy future.


Canada’s gas industry has been a driver of that national innovation agenda for many years. For over a decade, the Canadian Gas Association (CGA), has been working with the Government of Canada explicitly on the topic. A first of its kind Memorandum of Understanding between industry and Natural Resources Canada – the federal department responsible for energy – was established in 2011 with innovation as a key focus. This led to a closer alliance amongst gas utilities on the topic, and eventually a 3-year joint investment fund between the CGA and Sustainable Development Technology Canada. SDTC is a leading delivery vehicle for the Canadian government on the innovation file. With the conclusion of that fund, CGA decided to move forward with a more robust initiative of its own and, recruiting former SDTC executive John Adams to the association, created the Natural Gas Innovation Fund, or NGIF.


NGIF – now incorporated as NGIF Capital Corporation under CGA ownership and appointing John Adams as President and CEO offers both granting and equity investment vehicles and is driving the gas innovation forward aggressively. And while its immediate focus is domestic, it fits well into a broader international innovation agenda that its parent, CGA, is pursuing.


That international agenda is currently focused on the next in the series of tri-ennial global innovation conferences for the gas industry, known as the International Gas Research Conference, or IGRC. The next IGRC will be in Banff in 2024, and CGA is the host. CGA has been working on its plans for the Banff event for over a year now. As part of those efforts, CGA created a new communications platform known as Gas Pathways. The online service is a means to profile gas innovation occurring across Canada – the kind of innovation in which NGIF Capital has been making grant and equity investments. But Gas Pathways is designed to profile global innovation, not just Canadian innovation, so as to connect the Canadian agenda to the world stage as we head into IGRC2024. And while the Banff event is a near-term focus, Gas Pathways is designed to be an ongoing information hub – to help drive the global gas innovation agenda for the longer term.


Building on Gas Pathways, CGA is in the process of launching the Global Gas Innovation Roundtable: a network of experts from around the world on energy who can help further advance the innovation conversation in gas. The roundtable plans to produce an annual report on the state of global gas technological innovation.


All of this innovation work evolved before Russia’s invasion effected a seismic shift in global energy geopolitics. But it offers Canada – a leading global producer and consumer of natural gas – a unique opportunity to step forward in light of the geopolitical change to show leadership.


The world wants more natural gas. To reduce poverty, to maintain reliability, to improve air quality and deliver other environmental benefits, no fuel compares with natural gas. Moreover, natural gas infrastructure is uniquely suited to do all of those things while maintaining incredible energy service affordability, and while providing a platform for new fuels like renewable natural gas and hydrogen.
Canada has the abundant supplies, the expertise in systems’ management, and the innovation agenda to help with that ongoing energy system evolution. In a world of incredible uncertainty, the ability to call on a reliable supplier with a proven track record of performance excellence is something the world wants. Canada can deliver.

Here’s why. The world wants more natural gas. To reduce poverty, to maintain reliability, to improve air quality and deliver other environmental benefits, no fuel compares with natural gas. Moreover, natural gas infrastructure is uniquely suited to do all of those things while maintaining incredible energy service affordability, and while providing a platform for new fuels like renewable natural gas and hydrogen. In sum, natural gas and its infrastructure are ideal for helping societies manage the evolution of their energy systems over time.


Canada has the abundant supplies, the expertise in systems’ management, and the innovation agenda to help with that ongoing energy system evolution. In a world of incredible uncertainty, the ability to call on a reliable supplier with a proven track record of performance excellence is something the world wants. Canada can deliver. And for markets like Europe, that have been very focused on transformative agendas to reduce their emissions while maintaining the availability of affordable and reliable energy, Canada presents a timely alternative.


Canadian gas has one of the lowest emission profiles in the world. Canadian gas systems are some of the “tightest” (as in having the fewest leaks) in the world. Canadian gas industry experts have been focused on improving environmental performance for decades, and have a track record of delivering efficiencies. Our innovation agenda described above only promises to build on all of that. Canada’s gas industry is determined to step forward in the present moment and help our allies in Europe and markets around the world realize a more secure energy future, one where more and more people have the benefits of clean, affordable, reliable natural gas that have served Canadians so well for so many decades.


 

This article appeared in World Biz Magazine's Q2, 2022 Issue



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John Adams is President and CEO of NGIF Capital Corporation and Managing Partner of NGIF Cleantech Ventures, Canada’s first venture capital firm and venture fund created by and for Canada’s natural gas sector. He is involved in all aspects of the enterprise including the responsibility of NGIF Industry Grants, the NGIF Emissions Testing Centre and NGIF Cleantech Ventures.