Canada’s opportunity in the global carbon tech market

From record-breaking wildfire seasons, to unprecedented heat waves, to devastating floods, climate change is having catastrophic effects from coast to coast.

A partner message from Foresight Canada

In recent years, the climate crisis has come into acute focus as communities around the globe experience a seemingly endless string of climate-related disasters — and Canada is no exception. From record-breaking wildfire seasons, to unprecedented heat waves, to devastating floods, climate change is having catastrophic effects from coast to coast.

In spite of the increasing impacts of our warming climate, the global economy still relies heavily on hard-to-decarbonize industries that pump billions of megatonnes (Mt) of emissions into our atmosphere every year, further exacerbating an already dire situation. 

Because of this, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) solutions — the process of capturing CO2 directly from the atmosphere and safely utilizing or storing it — are becoming a vital component of net zero strategies all across the planet. 

How much carbon do we need to capture?

It is estimated that we need 2,000 to 10,000 Mt of carbon capture annually to reach net zero, but over half of the CCUS technology needed is not commercially ready yet, and global carbon capture efforts are falling drastically short of targets as a result. 

For context, the commercial capture facilities currently in operation globally have a total annual capture capacity of approximately 45 Mt CO2 — about 1,900 Mt short of the minimum required to reach net zero. 

To make a long story short, if we are going to reach global net zero targets and create a liveable future for generations to come, we need to accelerate the development, commercialization, and scaling of CCUS solutions, and we need to do it fast. 

What is Canada’s current role within the global CCUS market?

The good news is, here in Canada — and specifically Alberta — we’re ahead of the game. When you look at the facts, it’s clear that Canada has emerged as an early leader in CCUS technologies. Home to five out of the 30 international CCUS projects currently in operation, and with a reputation for top notch research, knowledge, and expertise in CCUS, Canada is undeniably a heavy hitter in the carbon tech space. Alberta in particular is leading the way in CCUS innovation with almost half of Canada’s carbon tech companies calling the province home. 

But, if Canada is going to capitalize on this opportunity and continue to lead the world in carbon tech innovation, understanding Canada’s strengths, gaps, and key opportunities to grow the sector is instrumental in order to pave the way for new technologies, and to advance technology deployment as we seek to reduce emissions in hard-to-abate sectors. Having these insights will support our understanding of the landscape of carbon tech innovation in Canada, and enable us to leverage our global leadership position.  

Canada’s Carbon Tech Value Chain:

That’s why Foresight Canada created an all-in-one resource, outlining Canada’s carbon technology value chain and our strengths, gaps, and opportunities.

The Ventures to Value Chains: Carbon Technology report leverages data from technology companies and other key stakeholders to map, categorize, and analyze 56 Canadian pure-play carbon tech companies across nine different value-chain steps, providing key insights into: 

  • the journey of carbon from emission source to capture and storage, utilization, or conversion;

  • the steps taken as carbon is processed, and the ways in which they connect to users, markets, or the environment, and;

  • key strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities across the value chain.

Here’s a snapshot of our key takeaways from the report: 

Our data and analysis indicates and discusses regional trends and clustering, areas of competitive strength, and potential opportunities for growth in the carbon tech sector in Canada, such as:  

  • Alberta has the most carbon tech companies in Canada .

  • Conversion and point source capture have the most number of companies in the Canadian carbon tech value chain.

  • Small numbers of measurement, monitoring and verification (MMV) technologies in Canada present an opportunity for innovation as an integral part of CCUS.

  • Conversion technologies are an area of strength in Canada.

  • Direct air capture is an opportunity for Canada, but ‘brain drain’ is a significant risk.

Canada’s leadership opportunity:

Knowing where a company fits along the value chain, which companies or technologies come before or after, who the competitors are, and where clusters are forming is critical information for ventures, industry, and investors to understand.  

This information is also highly important for governments to identify areas of strength, gaps, and opportunities in the innovation landscape, pinpoint areas for targeted support and where targeted R&D and project funding will deliver the greatest return on investment for Canada’s communities and environment.   

With these unique insights into the Canadian carbon tech innovation landscape, Canada can leverage strengths and seize opportunities to lead the world in CCUS solutions.  

Interested in learning more about Canada’s carbon technology value chain? Check out the Executive Summary and learn how you can purchase this powerful resource.