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Archive: Aug 2013

  1. Categories: Business

    Carpe Diem, Canada

    Tomorrow’s success is far from guaranteed – it relies on our sound decision-making today. Though Canada’s a vast nation of enormous abundance, many feel we’ve used that fact as a crutch.

    Perhaps, it’s time to seize on the opportunities available to us.

    Firstly, a decision should be made on how to use our energy. For example, during the OPEC embargo of 1973, Albertan oil was transported west to Vancouver, loaded into tankers, sailed south and through the Panama Canal, then north to Montreal. (An absurd 15,000 km journey.) In fact, Eastern Canada continues to rely on 725,000 barrels per day from Algeria, West Africa, the Middle East and the North Sea – and yet, we’re the world’s sixth largest producer. Ending our bickering and red tape will get us closer to making our country’s energy independence a reality.

    It would also be prudent to resist the temptation to place all our chips on the Oil Sands. Perhaps we should consider our entire energy mix – and in particular, our natural gas future.  Applying our best minds to the significant question of our energy future is key.

    Professor Steve Larter, a leading international expert in the location and formation of heavy oil, put it this way: “Energy technology should be a big part of Canadian industrial development but the total spend is very small. We spend about $30 billion a year on Christmas… while the total university research and development is about one billion dollars. We need a different model if Canada is going to be a big energy producer. It needs to get its act together.”

    What do you consider crucial to Canada’s energy future? Let us know in the comments section below.


  2. Categories: Business, Sustainability

    Providing power with game-changing technology

    It’s the size of a dishwasher but does a lot more than just clean up. Redox Power Systems, a Maryland-based start-up company, has partnered with researchers at the University of Maryland to commercialize a technology that could potentially change the way we look at distributed energy generation.

    The two are working together to introduce a fuel cell that is about one-tenth the size and costs 90 per cent less than current commercial fuel cells. Redox’s PowerSERG 2-80 connects to your natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity, giving homes and businesses the ability to generate their own power. The fuel cell has a capacity of 25 kilowatts—enough to power a gas station or small grocery store. Sales are set to begin in 2014.

    In Ontario, this summer’s heavy rain and storms showed us what could potentially happen to our power when Mother Nature puts the pressure on. Redox’s fuel cell is something that can keep individual homes and businesses powered in emergencies that temporarily affect the larger electricity grid. This promising new technology has the potential to provide us all with safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy via natural gas.

    To read more, please visit here.

    Is distributed energy something that Ontario should consider investing in? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  3. Categories: Business

    Natural gas: Is that for here or to go?

    Imperial Oil has recently submitted a proposal to Canada’s National Energy Board to export liquefied natural gas from our west coast, to the energy hungry markets of Asia. The plan seeks to export up to 4 billion cubic feet of LNG per day (about a quarter of Canada’s current production) over 25 years to countries that will pay a premium for it. The government, in turn, needs to review the proposal to ensure this won’t adversely affect domestic prices for our own natural gas.

    Conversely, in Central and Eastern Canada, we are importing natural gas from deposits in the eastern U.S. (such as those found in the Marcellus Shale). This gas is cheaper to import from the U.S. than it is to truck across the entire continent from where Canada extracts most of its domestic supply in Alberta and B.C. Ontario and Eastern Canada now import 3 billion cubic feet of LNG per day; almost the amount proposed for export in the West.

    The ebb and flow of supply and demand for Canada’s resources happens every day. This simple export/import comparison between different regions of the country belies the often intricate commingling of factors contributing to the National Energy Board’s decision making.

    However, some things are certain – the abundance of natural gas in both the east and west allows for unprecedented flexibility at fair prices. Notions of domestic versus imported energy supply evaporate. This is mainly due to the enormous geographical distances in North America, and due to this clean, affordable and reliable energy source all around us. Canadian consumers and industry have ample natural gas for the foreseeable future – with plenty for exporting..

    Let us know what you think in the comments section provided below.


  4. Categories: Environment

    Stars Align as Business Turns to Natural Gas

    In order for certain trends to occur, they require a certain confluence of factors. For example, technological viability is nothing without the will to use it. And on that count, the tides have certainly been changing for natural gas.

    That’s why Shakespeare, Ontario’s Faromor Ltd., a manufacturer of industrial-grade ventilation systems, has installed a compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling system for its own vehicle fleet. The station taps into the local natural gas line and stores natural gas in above-ground tanks, ready for use.

    The 35-year-old company has become a recognized leader in ventilation systems built specifically for livestock and poultry housing, but lately has also been designing and constructing natural gas refuelling stations. Obviously, it sees a future in this nascent business, and is willing to put its money where its mouth is.

    And though this technology isn’t new, many feel it’s time for natural gas infrastructure in Ontario. Discoveries of new reserves, and subsequent lower prices, have made the price of this clean, affordable and reliable energy (30 cents per litre, versus about $1.30 for diesel) a progressively more viable option.

    “Essentially you’re getting close to a $1 per litre cost saving,” Gary Blenkhorn, president of Faromor Energy Systems, explains. “[Our] drivers haven’t found any difference in highway driving.”

    It’s also been suggested that Perth County, Ontario might be a future customer for the fuel, given the costs of operating its vehicle fleet – in particular, the ambulance service.

    What do you feel about Ontario embracing its natural gas future? Let us know in the comments section provided below.

  5. Categories: Sustainability
    Natural Gas Ford 2014 F-150

    Natural Gas Now Fuels Ford F-150

    Natural gas has taken a giant leap forward with Ford Motor Company’s announcement that they will provide a natural gas engine for their flagship F-150 pick-up truck.

    Though a natural gas vehicle is already available to the consumer market (the Honda Civic), it’s ill suited to heavy-duty work. Other makes and models of natural gas trucks have been available, though they are typically heavier models, and available in limited quantities to commercial operations. This announcement heralds a new era in consumer perception of natural gas as a viable mass-market fuel alternative to diesel or gasoline.

    It is believed the biggest opportunity for the truck will manifest in fleet vehicle sales. With the decline in gas prices due to unconventional drilling and extraction, companies can realize a $0.50 saving for every litre – an enormous contribution to their bottom lines. As well, companies seeking to “green” their operations will produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions as compared with other fossil fuels.

    While the upfront costs of a natural gas vehicle may seem high ($7,500 – $9,500 more than the average $24,000 Ford F-150) the typical cost savings of using natural gas could pay for the difference in as little as two years.

    If it were readily available in your vehicle of choice, would you make the switch to natural gas? Let us know in the comments section provided below.