The Carbontech innovation system in CanadaAn evaluation of national carbon conversion technology development competitiveness

Publication - Dec. 8, 2020 - By CMC Research Institutes, ACTia, Pembina Institute

Canada has significant advantages in developing the technology required to help keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and to put the country on a path to net- zero emissions by 2050. Investing in carbon capture innovation and technology can also give Canadian industry a strong economic boost as the world is recovering from COVID-19.

This report, developed with CMC Reasearch Institutes and the Alberta Clean Technology Industry Alliance, investigates Canada’s competitive advantage in developing and implementing carbon capture technology. The research scans existing and emerging innovations, and forecasts Canada’s potential leadership role in the global carbon capture market.


To stabilize temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius, global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to net zero by 2050. Most pathways to achieve this goal incorporate carbon technology — technologies that turn captured carbon into commercial products.

Interest in carbon technology is growing, with the global market forecast to reach $1 trillion annually by 2030, the same scale as the international market for concrete. One reason for its popularity with governments, industry and technology developers is that the goods produced can sequester carbon while at the same time offering operators a way to recoup investments and subsequent operating costs.

This report The Carbontech Innovation System in Canada highlights areas of competitive advantage, and factors that could place Canada in a leadership role designing and supplying these technologies to global markets. Canada is home to one of every six tonnes of CO2 that have been captured and sequestered globally, making it a recognized authority in the development of carbon storage facilities and accompanying regulatory frameworks. Important lessons from these investments that can be applied to development of the carbon technology sector.

The report also demonstrates empirically that Canada has strengths which position it to succeed in the carbon technology sphere, including in intellectual property in specific carbon-to-value pathways and in formation of entrepreneurial technology ventures. Canada also has a well-educated workforce with strengths in engineering, public finance programs for early stage research and development, policy support, and leading research and scale-up facilities.

Given the lucrative carbon technology markets at play, other countries are accelerating efforts to grow the sector. Canada risks falling behind unless it moves quickly to develop a comprehensive national strategy to guide government, industry, technology developers and the finance community as they are faced with decisions that will impact growth. This report can serve as a guide to focus resources on key areas to stimulate research, development and commercialization. 


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