Plans and priorities
Innovation and clean technologies are key components of the Government of Canada’s approach to promoting sustainable economic growth and will play a crucial role in Canada’s transformation into a low-carbon economy. Investing in research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of new clean energy technologies accelerates bringing these technologies to commercialization.
Canada’s role in Mission Innovation
Through its participation in Mission Innovation (MI), the Government of Canada aims to:
- Double federal investment in clean energy RD&D over five years, from C$387 million in 2014-2015 to C$775 million by 2019-2020;
- Encourage private sector investment in early-stage clean energy innovation companies in Canada; and
- Increase domestic and international collaboration to advance MI goals.
“A strong economy and healthy environment go hand-in-hand, and we are committed to leaving our children and grandchildren with a more sustainable and prosperous country. Mission Innovation will tap into the vast economic opportunities of our environment by helping to create the growth and jobs Canadians need.”
– Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Canada also plays a leadership role in MI’s operations:
- In May 2019, Canada hosted MI-4, the fourth annual MI Ministerial meeting, in Vancouver.
- From June 2018 to June 2019, Canada held the role of Chair of the MI Steering Committee.
- Canada co-leads the Analysis and Joint Research Sub-Group, and participates in all of MI’s Innovation Challenges (ICs), co-leading both IC4: Sustainable Biofuels and IC6: Clean Energy Materials.
- Canada also directly supports MI’s Secretariat, and participates in the Business and Investment Engagement Sub-Group and Ministerial Planning Team.
Canada’s federal funding for clean energy RD&D
Doubling Canada’s federal funding for clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D) requires a whole-of-government approach. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) plays a leadership role in federal clean energy RD&D activities as a funder, through the Office of Energy Research and Development, and performer, through its CanmetENERGY and CanmetMATERIALS laboratories.
In carrying out its activities, NRCan works in collaboration with many other departments, agencies and federally-funded arms-length organizations.
Canada’s federal clean energy RD&D investments target greenhouse gas reductions in Canada’s five highest emitting sectors:
- Electricity generation
- Oil and gas
- Emissions-intensive industries (e.g. cement, chemicals, iron, steel)
Canada’s MI baseline and doubling progress
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) leads Canada’s response to the annual International Energy Agency Survey of Energy RD&D Expenditures and, in parallel, distributes a survey specific to MI activities to federal organizations. NRCan solicits reports on actual and planned spending from over 25 federal departments, agencies and organizations and compiles the results to determine progress towards meeting the MI doubling pledge.
The Government of Canada’s fiscal year (FY) runs from April 1st to March 31st. Canada’s MI baseline is C$387 million and includes all federal clean energy RD&D spending identified by survey respondents for FY 2014-15. Canada’s doubling target is C$775 million in FY 2019-20.
In FY 2015-16 (MI year 1), Canada’s total federal spending on clean energy RD&D was C$479 million (24% over baseline).
In FY 2016-17 (MI year 2), Canada’s total federal spending on clean energy RD&D was C$438 million (13% over baseline).
Funded in part through Natural Resources Canada’s Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) program and Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s NextGen Biofuels Fund, AE Côte-Nord Bioenergy aims convert 65,000 metric tonnes of sawmill reside per year into 40 million liters of renewable fuel oil (biocrude) per year, which will be sold for heating and as refinery feedstock in Quebec and the United States. The project is a partnership between Arbec, a major eastern Canada forestry company, and Ensyn, owner of the Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP) technology used to produce the biocrude. This model is expected to be repeatable.
In FY 2017-18 (MI year 3), Canada’s total federal spending on clean energy RD&D was C$539.1 million (39% over baseline).
A report on Canada’s total federal spending on clean energy RD&D in FY 2017-18 will be available in spring 2019. The report is expected to show a significant increase in spending over FY 2016-17, since important new funding for clean energy RD&D announced in Canada’s federal Budget 2016 (released in March 2016) began to be disbursed.
Launched in May 2019, under a new stream of EIP delivered through Natural Resources Canada in partnership with Breakthrough Energy and BDC, Breakthrough Energy Solutions Canada (BESC) builds on the shared objectives of advancing a sustainable and resilient clean energy future. BESC is a first-of-its-kind public-private initiative aimed at accelerating the development of clean energy technologies in the electricity, transportation, buildings and manufacturing sectors with the potential for substantial GHG reductions globally. As part of the competitive process, shortlisted companies were invited to pitch their breakthrough solutions in Ottawa on January 14, 2020. Following this pitch event, 10 Canadian firms were selected to receive up to C$40 million total, as well as participate in yearly accelerator events in order to gain further exposure and valuable business insights from leading clean tech investors such as Breakthrough Energy, BDC, EDC and others. The selected companies are:
- Electricity: Smarter Alloys Inc, e-Zn Inc, Biome Renewables
- Buildings: Evercloak Inc., Intelligent City
- Manufacturing: Ekona Power, CERT Systems Inc, CarbonCure Technologies
- Transportation: Havelaar Canada, GBatteries Inc
FY 2018-19 (MI year 4)
A report on Canada’s total federal spending on clean energy RD&D in FY 2018-19 will be available in MI’s 2020 Country Highlights Report. In Canada’s federal Budget 2017, released in March 2017, the Government of Canada announced major new funding to deliver on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change to boost the growth of Canada’s clean technology sector. The report is expected to show a significant increase in spending over FY 2017-18.
Highlights for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) includes:
- Clean Growth Program: C$155 million over four years to advance clean technology RD&D, up to first commercial demonstration, in Canada’s natural resources sectors (energy, mining and forestry).
- Impact Canada Initiative – Clean Technology Stream: C$75 million over four years, starting in FY 2017-18, to support high-impact clean technology challenges (e.g. helping Canada’s northern communities reduce their reliance on diesel; biojet fuel).
- Green Infrastructure (Phase 2): Starting FY 2018-19, this includes:
- Smart Grids: C$35 million over four years to demonstrate key emerging smart grid technologies.
- Net-Zero Buildings: C$64 million over eight years for RD&D to drive down costs and create market confidence in net zero construction.
- Remote Communities: C$59.4 million over six years to demonstrate innovative clean energy solutions for northern communities and reduce reliance on diesel power.
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: C$30 million over four years to demonstrate next generation electric vehicle charging technologies.
- Energy Innovation Program (EIP): C$52.9 million per year as of 2018-19 to fund clean energy RD&D. The EIP spurs broader investment by providing direct funding to external recipients, as well as providing core funding for federal energy laboratories for public good R&D and science to inform codes and standards.
In addition, Budget 2017 announced C$400 million over five years to recapitalize Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s SD Tech Fund, which will support projects across Canada to develop and demonstrate new clean technologies that promote sustainable development, including those that address environmental issues such as climate change, air quality, clean water and clean soil.
Notable developments in 2019-20
In February 2018, Canada’s Budget 2018 announced an historic investment of nearly C$4 billion over five years to support the next generation of Canadian researchers, including nearly C$1.2 billion over five years for Canada’s granting councils, ongoing funding for Canada Research Chairs, and investments in the laboratories, equipment and infrastructure that researchers rely on every day. For example, significant funding is allocated to enhance Canada’s advanced computing and big data capabilities for researchers across the country, which will support innovation in clean energy RD&D along with several other disciplines.
Private sector engagement
To support MI’s goal of encouraging private sector investment in early-stage clean energy innovation companies, Natural Resources Canada worked with organizers of the Canadian Financing Forum and GLOBE to organize an MI Clean Energy Financing Event, held March 14-15, 2018, in Vancouver, Canada. Eight clean energy companies representing Canada, the United States (US), Australia and France had an opportunity to engage with over 30 major investors from North America and Europe through dedicated pitch sessions and panels featuring active venture funds. In addition, companies from Canada, the US, the United Kingdom and Italy, representing the CCUS, biogas, smart grid, hydrogen and lithium extraction sectors had an opportunity to engage with approximately 60 investors from North America and Europe through a matchmaking session, which included over 50 pre-arranged individual meetings. This event was followed by an investor-only reception for investors to share information and leads.
In January 2020, NRCan hosted the BESC Forum, which brought together senior representatives from Gates Ventures, Breakthrough Energy, and other key stakeholders in the clean energy innovation ecosystem and presented an opportunity for twenty-two finalists from across Canada to pitch their innovations to investors. Following the pitch event, 10 winners were selected and announced at GLOBE 2020.
The Government of Canada continues to explore opportunities for collaboration with international partners.
Canada’s participation in the MI Innovation Challenges
Canada participates in all of MI’s Innovation Challenges and co-leads IC4: Sustainable Biofuels and IC6: Clean Energy Materials. Canada led the development of a report, summarizing the impact of the eight Innovation Challenges over MI’s initial mandate.
- Smart Grids Innovation Challenge (IC1): Canada hosted and participated in three workshops in 2019: the first joint workshop between IC1 and the CEM initiative IEA International Smart Grids Action Network (ISGAN), the fifth IC1 deep-dive workshop (May 30-31, 2019), and participated in the sixth IC1 deep-dive workshop in. Canada is contributing to IC1’s Smart Grids Innovation Accelerator (SGIA) platform and to planning discussions for MI 2.0, exploring opportunities to amplify members’ impact in smart grid research under MI’s next mandate.
- Off-Grid Access to Electricity (IC2): Canada is working with an IEC joint working group to revise the international standard for renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification (IEC TS 62257 series). These updates will help to ensure that standards are internationally referenceable and relevant in light of progress in off-grid electrification.
- Sustainable Biofuels Innovation Challenge (IC4): Canada hosted the workshop, “Advanced Biofuels: Pathways to Market,” in 2019 with over 140 representatives from the biofuels industry, academia, and government in attendance.
- Clean Energy Materials Innovation Challenge (IC6): Canada continues to play a leading role in IC6 activities, representing IC6 at international conferences and engaging stakeholders on areas of mutual interest.
- Renewable and Clean Hydrogen (IC8): Canadian representatives on IC8 are working with IC6 to develop materials for clean fuels.
Mexico and the United States
Canada is committed to clean energy collaboration with our North American neighbours:
- From 2016-2018, a series of trilateral CCUS workshops were held between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. to enhance North American collaboration in this technology area.
- In February 2017, Canada’s Prime Minister and the President of the United States issued a joint statement noting close cooperation in the area of clean energy innovation.
- In February 2016, NRCan, the United States Department of Energy and Mexico’s Secretaría de Energía signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Climate Change and Energy Collaboration. The three Parties are engaging in discussions on developing a new North American energy action plan.
- In December 2017, NRCan and the Chinese National Energy Administration established the Ministerial Dialogue on Clean Energy.
- In June 2017, NRCan renewed its agreement with the Chinese Academy of Science for Cooperation in the Sustainable Development of Natural Resources.
- In June 2017, NRCan also renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development Concerning Cooperation in the Technology of Development of Eco-Cities.
- In May 2017, at the inaugural meeting of the Canada-China Clean Technology Working Group, NRCan and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology agreed on Terms of Reference and identified technology and geographic areas for collaboration.
- In February 2016, the Joint Declaration on Canada-China Clean Technology Cooperation was signed in Ottawa, between NRCan; Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada; and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology.
- Canada and Germany have celebrated nearly 50 years of R&D collaboration under the scientific and technology cooperation treaty.
- The two countries collaboratively work together in wide range of different areas of science, research and technology, looking ahead with new ideas and initiatives.
- In December 2017, Canada and Korea agreed on the Canada-Korea Science, Technology and Innovation cooperation Joint Action Plan, which includes clean energy technology R&D collaboration.
- In March 2016, NRCan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Innovation and Energy Technologies with the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
- In September 2017, Prime Ministers Trudeau and May announced the establishment of a Canada-UK Partnership on Clean Growth and Climate Change to advance clean innovation and clean and renewable energy. Building on the collaboration between Canada and the UK under this partnership and MI, the Canada-UK Power Forward Challenge brings together and challenges smart grid innovators from both countries to design solutions for the grid of the future.
Announced at the 3rd MI Ministerial meeting in May 2018, the Canada-UK Power Forward Challenge has now selected seven finalist consortia of Canadian and UK innovators following competitive pitch events. These consortia are now being provided with up to C$3 million to develop a pilot-scale demonstration of their innovative smart grid solution for more integrated, cleaner, and flexible power grids looking ahead of 2030 and beyond. The best-in-class solution will be awarded a final prize of C$1 million.
Canada participates alongside MI members in various multilateral fora to promote clean energy solutions, exchange information and expertise, and advance technological development. These fora include, among others, the Clean Energy Ministerial, the International Energy Agency, the Nuclear Energy Agency, and the Generation IV International Forum.
The Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change
In December 2016, the Government of Canada signed a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change with provinces and territories, which will serve as the basis for action to meet or exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions targets and transition Canada to a stronger, more resilient low-carbon economy. Accelerating innovation to support clean technologies and create jobs was a key pillar of the Framework, alongside pricing carbon pollution, complementary measures to further reduce emissions, and measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change and build resilience.
Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference
The Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference (EMMC) is an annual gathering of federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers responsible for energy and mining portfolios to discuss how to support a responsible and competitive industry that contributes to the sustainable development of local communities and Canada as a whole. At these meetings, ministers discuss shared priorities for collaborative action to advance energy and mining development across the country. The EMMC is supported by an Energy Technology Working Group (ETWG) which promotes the advancement of energy technology and innovation through collaboration on energy technology RD&D.
Methodology for determining baseline
Based on federal clean energy RD&D spending as identified in the International Energy Agency’s Survey of Energy RD&D Expenditures, the baseline is composed of reported federal spending in FY 2014-15 for Natural Resources Canada and 14 other federal departments, agencies and organizations. Of these 15 federal contributors to the Mission Innovation baseline, the following five organizations remain at the top of the list for largest contributors to the Government of Canada’s spending on clean energy RD&D since FY 2014-15:
- Through collaboration with academia, industry and other governmental partners, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is a performer and a funder of research, development and technology demonstrations to find innovation solutions to environmental challenges in the energy sector.
- Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is a federal Crown corporation responsible for enabling nuclear science and technology at its nuclear laboratories through a government-owned, contractor-operated model.
- The National Research Council is a national research and technology organization that works with clients and partners to provide innovation support, strategic research, and scientific and technical services.
- With a focus on discovery research and innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) facilitates partnerships between Canada’s universities, colleges and industry, and the training of Canada’s next generation of scientists and engineers.
- As a federally-funded, arms-length organization focused on technology development and demonstration, Sustainable Development Technology Canada works to bring economically viable clean technologies closer to market.
Country definition of clean energy RD&D investment
The research, development and demonstration of technologies that provide solutions covering the span of energy supply (e.g. fossil fuels, wind, bioenergy, nuclear), energy transmission (e.g. smart grid, energy storage) and energy use (e.g. buildings, transportation); as well as solutions that improve operational performance or process efficiency, while reducing energy use, waste or environmental pollution.
In practice, all federal spending reported in the International Energy Agency’s Survey of Energy RD&D Expenditures is included in Canada’s MI reporting, except for two lines:
- 4144: Other nuclear supporting technologies
- 43: Unallocated nuclear fission and fusion
Federal investments are implemented through a number of mechanisms, including:
- Cost-shared projects with the private sector that often leverage provincial and territorial funding programs.
- Research and development activities at national laboratories and research centers.
- Grants to universities.