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The Canadian non-profit Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation (CCEMC) plans to give up to $40 million to innovative green energy projects. CCEMC partnered with open innovation company NineSigma to help promote its request for proposals.
Open innovation refers to using ideas from both the in-house research and development team and outside contributors to solve problems. If done right, open innovation allows companies to become more innovative for less money and time than through traditional means. This practice has been gaining traction over the past several years, as organizations ranging from multinational manufacturer Procter & Gamble to the United States government begin to look outside the box to find inspiration.
CCEMC is looking for innovative ideas in areas that include “wind generation, geothermal, run-of-river and micro generation hydro, solar, and biomass.” It will likely fund several projects, as each proposal can receive up to $10 million of the total $40 million earmarked for the initiative. CCEMC’s main goal is to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Alberta, and it is looking outside its traditional channels to realize that goal.
“We have turned open innovation because we want to get to the global marketplace,” Kirk Andries, managing director at CCEMC, told Crowdsourcing.org. “We want to access global human capital and get the best minds on the planet working on trying to solve the problems of GHG emission reduction.
“Open innovation is an important tool for us,” he continued. “We’ve been in business for about three years now, and we’ve been successful to date. But we have not attracted lots of project ideas from outside of Canada, and we have a very real interest in being able to do that.”
Teaming up with NineSigma — which operates in a variety of fields but has an emphasis on sustainability — allows CCEMC to be one step closer to a worldwide community of entrepreneurs and scientists who will be able to help Alberta reduce its GHG emissions. In order to promote the newest and most innovative ideas, CCEMC manages an investment fund that subsidizes renewable energy projects.
The non-profit works closely with Alberta’s energy companies; indeed, it receives much of its funding from them. Since 2007, companies that produce more than 100,000 tons of GHG emissions per year are legally required to reduce their emissions by 12%. They have three ways of doing this, one of which is contributing money to the CCEMC fund. CCEMC’s close relationship with the energy companies and the regulations imposed on them by the state ensure that new technologies can actually be implemented into companies’ models.
“When we issue our requests for proposals, many energy companies apply to our fund to get money to support their ideas,” explained Andries. “We put money into many projects that are part of the energy sector. Because the companies have to hit their emission reductions, they are very keen on advancing technology. They often are major partners in the projects and will provide the facility that new technology gets tested at.”
Given the recent publicity of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S., Alberta has been negatively associated with tar sand oil fields. These fields are harder to extract oil from, and the process produces more GHG emissions than regular oil extraction. If successful, initiatives like CCEMC’s plan to use new technology to reduce GHGs should go a long way in making Canadian tar sand oil palatable to consumers.
“We’ve made commitments and public policy to reduce GHG emissions by 50 megatons by 2020 and 200 megatons by 2050,” said Andries. “We’re serious about that. We have a responsibility not only to Albertans but to the rest of the world to manage our emissions.”
While using open innovation to reduce GHG emissions is certainly a step in the right direction, it will be some time before we find out the effectiveness of the campaign. The initial expressions of interest are due in late September, and final proposals will be approved in mid-2013. Those that secure funding will have three years to complete their projects.