SFU and Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre collaborate to decarbonize BC’s industrial sectors through cleantech

The research team aims to implement emissions regulation policies while maintaining an accessible and competitive industry

PHOTO: Manny Becerra / Unsplash

by Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

Foresight Cleantech Accelerator and SFU will work together to support the development of BC cleantech. This project will be funded by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions to focus on decarbonizing industrial services.

Cleantech refers to technology that improves economic and environmental sustainability by reducing pollution and energy efficiency with renewable energy. In an email interview with The Peak, PhD candidate Thomas Budd, who is working in SFU’s Energy and Materials Research Group, outlined the team’s plans to move industries in BC towards a sustainable future. 

“We will be looking into how climate policies, like a carbon tax and emissions regulations, can be linked to trade policies which keep domestic and decarbonized industries internationally competitive,” Budd stated.

In order to reach zero-net emissions by 2050, Budd said provincial and federal governments should commit to decarbonization policies by consistently “increasing the carbon tax and/or tightening emissions regulations, all the while financially supporting innovation that lowers the cost of zero-emission technologies and processes.” The research team is seeking policy support from municipal, provincial, and federal governments to implement emissions reduction policies.

The cleantech industry yields “some of the lowest returns on investment” compared to other software industries, making it a less viable option for investing. Although government emission regulations could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, their increased expenses prevent them from being able to compete with other industries. This puts them at risk of shutting down, Budd explained. 

As a result, many industries that sell products to international markets have little room to accommodate the increased expenses of cleantech at the risk of losing their consumer base. To solve this, the team aims to maintain market competition and find policies that can reduce the cost of cleantech to allow faster adoption within the industry.

BC’s aluminum and pulp and paper industry — which converts plant material into paper —  developed strategies to transfer energy sources. They aim to switch to biomass waste and hydroelectric power to implement cleantech into their sectors. These alternative approaches transform natural sources, such as forestry, into clean energy, and generate electricity from moving water.

Budd emphasized that these accomplishments are a result of the carbon tax and emissions regulation policies that created a pathway for accessible cleantech. Although these are promising efforts to decarbonize the industry, he believes that there is still “a tremendous amount of work yet to accomplish.”