From wind power to waste conversion, B.C. earmarks $8.5m for cleantech

Clir Renewables CEO Gareth Brown

What happened: Provincial government allocates money to nine made-in-B.C. cleantech projects

Why it matters: Dollars are coming for climate-driven initiatives amid economic uncertainty brought on by pandemic

Made-in-B.C. efforts to streamline energy storage, cultivate wind power and convert waste into energy are getting a financial boost from provincial coffers.

The province announced Wednesday (September 2) it’s earmarking an additional $8.5 million from its Innovation Clean Energy fund for nine West Coast projects.

The fund has distributed $104 million since its launch in 2008 and Ionomr Innovations Inc. is walking away with the largest sum ($2.4 million) in the latest tranche of funding.

The Simon Fraser University spinoff specializes in the development of ion exchange membranes and coatings for energy storage, clean energy generation and wastewater treatment.

The membranes help eliminate the use of expensive precious metals and fluorinated compounds that can damage the environment — advancements that could help boost implementation of hydrogen fuel cells and battery technologies.

Co-founder Benjamin Britton told BIV in 2018 the tech has the potential to drive global energy usage down 2-3% “in addition to scaling something that isn’t going to be toxic and bioaccumulative on the planet.”

Late last year Ionomr raised $3 milling in a funding round led by Vancouver-based Pallasite Ventures Inc.

The next biggest sum ($2 million) is being delivered to B.C. forestry giant Canfor Pulp Ltd. for a project aimed at converting wood waste into renewable energy.

The technology will initially be deployed at its kraft pulp mill business in Prince George, with plans to licence it for domestic and international use later down the road.

Vancouver-based Clir Renewables Inc. is receiving $1.5 million from the government to develop its AI-powered windfarm optimization software.

The additional funding comes at a time when the company is expanding into the realm of solar power, having rolled out an analogous platform for solar assets in June.

“When you have a better technical understanding of your asset, you’ve got a higher certainty of the production going forward and that allows you to borrow more money and get better financial returns on the asset,” CEO Gareth Brown told BIV in July.  

“When the crash happened in 2008, all of the governments invested in green tech because of the threat of climate change. So the fundamentals of our current client base – these solar panels, these wind farms – are not being taken down. They’re still going to have the same challenges and opportunities on them. But once the recovery starts kicking in, we’re going to see larger investment and stimulus to get a green grid.”

The Innovation Clean Energy fund is also distributing $1.4 million to CryoLogistics Refrigeration Technologies Inc. to develop CO2 refrigeration tech to reduce emissions of cold freight during transportation.

Other funding is going to Powertech Labs Inc. ($125,000), Ekona Power Inc. ($375,000), Sanctuary Cognitive Systems Corp. ($28,000), Global Energy Horizons Corp. ($40,000) and RecycleSmart Solutions Inc. ($606,000).