Students showcase “Scenarios for Alberta’s Energy Future”


Excerpted from a story by Mark Lowey

Forty-nine University of Calgary students showcased their research projects on energy systems change and ways to significantly reduce Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions at a special, by-invitation event held in downtown Calgary in December 2015.

L to R: Students Jiaan Pacunana (chemical engineering), Samantha Visser (mechanincal engineering), Waheed Zaman (chemical engineering), Pradeep Shrestha (chemical engineering) and Varada Khot (chemical engineering) with their poster on “Biomass Pyrolysis in the Oil Sands.”   Organized by Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) Initiative, the “Scenarios for Alberta’s Energy Future” event at the Calgary Marriott Downtown attracted about 140 people. It was jointly sponsored by the University of Calgary, CESAR and the Energy Futures Lab, an Alberta-based, multi-interest collaboration designed to accelerate the development of “fit for the future” energy systems.

          The natural science and engineering students, in their final year of undergraduate studies, presented research posters under the theme, “Scenarios for Alberta’s Energy Future.” The students are enrolled in the Scie529 capstone course, part of the Energy Sciences Concentration in the Natural Sciences Program in the Faculty of Science at the University of Calgary.

          David Layzell, director of CESAR and course coordinator and instructor for Scie529, says the scientifically-based evidence that is needed to guide the transformation of energy systems includes:

• Reliable data that’s publicly available, easily accessible and internally consistent, covering all aspects of the energy systems;

• An understanding of how energy systems work and how they are changing, including components that work well, areas that are inefficient and the nature of the forces that are driving systems change.

• Scenario models of possible energy futures that are built on technology and / or policy alternatives and include calculations of the system-level greenhouse gas implications.

          CESAR, established in 2013, is an initiative to encourage and communicate research and critical analysis around the transformation of Canada’s energy systems. CESAR’s primary goals are to elevate the conversation across Canada around energy systems choices, and to inform policy and investment decisions on transforming Canada’s energy systems toward sustainability. CESAR builds data resources and visualization tools, analyzes past energy systems and models energy future.

          The student teams studied ten systems:

• Molten Carbonate Fuel Cells for SAGD: Transitioning Alberta’s Oil Sands and Electricity Grid for a Low Carbon Energy Future

• Carbon Black to the Future?: Can natural gas dissociation provide a clean fuel for SAGD and a high value by-product?

• Biomass Pyrolysis in the Oil Sands: Reducing GHG Emissions of Bitumen Recovery by Integrating Alberta’s Forestry Industry

• Hydrothermal Liquefaction: A Possible Solution to Alberta’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Crisis

• Replacing Alberta’s Transportation Fuel with Home Grown Biofuel: Can Alberta Crop Residuals Supplement Fuel Demand and Reduce GHG Emissions?

• What’s All the Hype on Hyperloops?: A transportation study for the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor

• The Drive for Sustainable Vehicles in Alberta’s Future

• Residential Space Heating & Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The impact of insulation, retrofits, size limits and high furnace efficiency

• Renewable Energy Storage in Alberta: Is it feasible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta through energy storage and renewable energy sources?

• Alberta Energy System – A Focus on Diet: The Impact of Dietary Trends of Alberta’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

          Mark Lowey is Communications Advisor at Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research and Managing Editor at EnviroLine. Originally posted January 12 at

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