Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 12 - Evidence - Morning meeting
WINNIPEG, Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources met this day at 9:05 a.m. to study the current state and future of
Canada's energy sector (including alternative energy).
Senator W. David Angus (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good morning, colleagues. Good morning, Professor
This is a formal meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the
Environment and Natural Resources. This morning, we are in the wonderful
city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, as we continue our consultations talking energy
with the people of Canada.
We are fresh from our visits to Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, now
Winnipeg and tomorrow the great province of Saskatchewan.
Colleagues, contrary to what you may see in your binders, Premier Greg
Selinger will be joining us this afternoon at 3:30 for an hour before we
leave for Saskatchewan.
We had a wonderful day yesterday with the good folks of Manitoba Hydro.
We toured a most remarkable building, which I think is a one-off in the
world in terms of its beyond-platinum LEED qualifications.
We had a great meeting with the senior management team of Manitoba Hydro,
who certainly made me recognize that things are really hopping along well
here in Manitoba and that the power supply is good and the price is right
and all is fine with the world.
This morning, colleagues, we have with us Dr. Nazim Cicek, professional
engineer, who is a professor and associate head of the Department of
Biosystems Engineering at the University of Manitoba. He has been a member
of the faculty of the U of M for 10 years. He is a chemical and
Dr. Cicek teaches courses in pollution prevention practices,
environmental impact assessment, agricultural waste management,
bioprocessing for biofuels and bioproducts, and in research, he is very
active in biological waste treatment, biofuel, ethanol and H2
production from waste biomass, biogas production via anaerobic digestion of
liquid waste, recovery of value-added material from waste streams including
fertilizers, fibre, energy and biopolymers.
Doctor, you probably know who we are. I am Senator David Angus, from
Quebec, and I chair this committee. To my right is Senator Grant Mitchell,
who is from Alberta. He is the deputy chair. To Senator Mitchell's right are
our very strong resource folks with the Parliamentary Library, Marc LeBlanc
and Sam Banks.
To Ms. Banks' right is my predecessor as chair, Senator Tommy Banks from
Alberta, and Senator Nick Sibbeston, a former Premier of the Northwest
Territories. I have been remiss to mention that in the past because I wanted
to hear it from the former premier himself.
I now understand the distinguished career you have had, Senator
To my left is the clerk of our committee, Lynn Gordon, and to her left is
Senator Richard Neufeld from British Columbia, a former Minister of Natural
Resources, Mines and Energy and all of the things that interest this
committee in that province.
Senator Paul Massicotte is, I think, a native of this province
originally. Last, but not least, we have our elected senator, Senator Bert
Brown, from Alberta.
I think you are aware, sir, of the study we are doing. One of the areas
we have been woefully weak in is the biomass sector, and whereas we are
trying to focus on a bigger picture, we still want to have a good
understanding of all the trees in the forest. We are really looking forward
to your presentation.
Nazim Cicek, Professor, Department of Biosystems Engineering,
University of Manitoba, as an individual: Thank you for the kind
introduction. Welcome to Winnipeg.
As the chair mentioned, I have a background in chemical and environmental
engineering and am very much interested in research topics in the area of
biomass energy, bioenergy and biofuels. I have submitted a few slides to
introduce you to a few research topics and projects that we are undertaking
or have done already, just to give you a flavour of what is occurring
currently at the University of Manitoba in my research group.
I will not take much of the committee's time with an introduction except
to go through a couple of these points, and then I would be happy to take
To start with, biomass bioenergy is the lowest hanging fruit, in my
opinion. There is much opportunity provincially as well as nationally, and
that is evident from the first couple of slides in your notes showing the
waste biomass, particularly, that is currently available in Canada and in
Obviously, every province has a different distribution of waste biomass
and different sources of it, but this is a sample chart from a 2004 study by
David Layzell from an organization called BIOCAP. It introduces you to what
type of waste sources we have available to us to look at solutions of
replacing fossil fuels with waste biomass energy.
The next chart shows you the distribution in Manitoba, and it is a bit
different, as you can see. Manitoba obviously has substantial resources in
crop residues as a waste and in livestock manure.
We do have a forestry sector that is also producing substantial amounts
of waste biomass, and the municipal solid waste source is in line with
national distribution ratios. We have the ability to convert many or all of
these resources, and I call waste a resource really, a misplaced resource,
if you like, to useful bioproducts, including energy.
I guess some of the data that is on those two slides also suggests the
potential, for example, for Manitoba, just looking at waste biomass without
anything else, without looking at energy crops or actually growing the
biomass for energy purposes, of displacing all the fossil fuels we currently
consume in this province.
We have the ability to be completely fossil fuel free. That will come at
a cost, obviously. The economics of it is a different issue.
There are a few examples of the research that is occurring at my shop.
One area that we have been heavily investing our efforts and attention in is
cellulosic biofuels, primarily conversion of waste biomass to ethanol,
butanol and hydrogen. We have moved also towards biopolymers or renewable
building blocks of plastics.
That program has been looking at identifying the microorganisms that
could convert these waste biomass sources currently available in Manitoba to
some of these products. Those waste biomass sources that we have tested are
things like straw, hemp, wood fibre, paper fibre, to cover the entire
portfolio, if you like, or suite of biomass waste sources we have available
in the province.
This might change nationally, but many of the implications are the same.
Cellulose is the same. It does not matter where you travel. It is a polymer
of sugar monomers.
We have made some progress in that area. We have published much in this
field, and I believe we are one of the world leaders in cellulosic biofuels
production, collaborating with National Renewable Energy Laboratory in
Colorado, and working with partners in New Zealand and Australia.
The next project is on wetland biopower or using wetland biomass like
cattails and bulrushes to both soak up the nutrients from our natural water
bodies while at the same time using that carbon that is being generated in
the process for biomass and bioenergy.
As you might know, this is a very important issue in Manitoba due to the
fact that we have eutrophication issues at Lake Winnipeg, and phosphorus
particularly is a target molecule to be removed from water sources in our
We have focused on combining that removal with biopower and greenhouse
gas mitigation efforts, and the next slide on page 4 just shows you a couple
of photos of what my students have been doing, harvesting cattails on sample
plots and research plots at a variety of natural environments, which we have
enclosed in different field plots, and looking at biomass harvesting at
different times of the year, understanding the phosphorus removal potential
and then the carbon utilization of those biomass sources.
Just to give you an idea where cattails and wetland biomass would stand
compared to other biomass sources that you might be familiar with in terms
of their potential in the U.S. and other places, like switchgrass and
miscanthus and giant reeds and willow and poplar and so forth, the second
slide on page 4 gives you an example of the yields one could achieve from
these natural wetlands. We have many of them in this province; therefore,
this is a focus area for us.
Cattails grow robustly. We do not need to give them any fertilizer or
water because luckily they grow on the downstream of that source. The river
brings it to them. There is a natural advantage. The challenges are
harvesting, drying, processing, the size of the plant, engineering issues,
et cetera, but none of this is difficult technically.
The following slide looks at some of our initiatives in cubing and
``densifying'' such biomass as cattails. This is important because
obviously, if you would like to centralize plants to utilize this biomass
source, we need to be able to get a grip on transportation and combustion of
that source, so we need to look at cubes and pellets. This also provides us
with an opportunity to export these kinds of goods outside of a region or a
province or even outside of Canada.
We have also done some work on combusting these materials, looking at
emissions as well as the content of, for example, nutrients within that ash.
We are interested in closing that cycle of nutrients, soaking it up from the
environment and ultimately using it for agriculture.
We as a group do not believe in wasting anything. At the end of the day,
a phosphorus waste is again a form of phosphorus resource.
The last few slides deal with liquid waste or liquid biomass, if you
like. We have much of that in the province in the form of livestock manure.
We have 22 per cent of the country's hog production here. We have North
America's second largest hog slaughterhouse in Brandon. It processes upwards
of four million pigs a year, as a matter of fact.
We have a robust livestock industry that includes hogs, cattle, dairy and
poultry, and as a matter of fact, at any given time, pigs outnumber humans
in Manitoba three to one, so that gives you a sense of where we stand.
That produces a lot of livestock waste, which we would like to use again
as a resource, and that brings us to anaerobic digestion of this resource
and the production of biogas or hydrogen. We have done some work on that,
mixing and matching recipes between livestock manure and other rurally
available biomass waste feedstock, such as glycerol from biodiesel
production, potato processing waste water, distiller dry grains, a number of
feedstocks that are available to us that we feel might boost the biogas
yields from converting livestock manure into energy. We are playing with
those co-feeding strategies, if you like.
On page 7, the last slide shows one of our new installations that I have
built at our research farm; it is a pilot scale anaerobic digestion system
with much flexibility to do both research and demonstration work, and the
goal of that is again to combine a number of interesting waste feedstocks in
the aim to improve the economics of digestion.
This is nothing new. It is fairly common in Europe and in other parts of
the world to do research in this area.
We have certain provincial and national challenges to overcome in this
area. The primary one is the existence of cheap energy in the province, so
if you want to displace electricity with biomass, that is a challenging
economic proposition. As well, our cold climate, as you might have
experienced this morning, is difficult to overcome when you are dealing with
a process that requires high temperatures.
That just gives you a flavour of what we do at the University of Manitoba
and what I do in my lab. Beyond the research that occurs in my research
group, I am also quite interested in other renewable energy initiatives in
the province. One is the plug-in hybrid vehicle program.
I have driven some of these cars for evaluation and have done a bit of
research on them with colleagues of mine at the university. The
electrification of the transportation system in Manitoba is a priority.
I have also worked a little bit with wind turbine construction and
efficiency, so renewable energy is really what I am passionate about, and I
would be happy to take any questions you might have.
Senator Mitchell: Doctor, we all really appreciate this. We have
not had a lot of testimony on this area, although we have had some, but your
work is clearly on point.
Ethanol has been criticized because much of it has been characterized as
burning food. My hope and expectation is that if we could just get started
anyway, we would begin to move beyond burning food.
I am wondering whether you see in your work that other technologies are
now being discovered that are going to be effective and economic. Could you
comment on the economics of it?
Mr. Cicek: I think ethanol from food, whether it be sugarcane in
Brazil or corn in the United States or other sources elsewhere is at best a
Obviously we have issues not just with food to fuel as a competition and
a natural resource, strategic resource issue. We also have problems with
changing how our agricultural lands are being used or how lands are being
converted to agricultural land for biofuel production.
Land-use change is an important issue that is now predominating European
ethanol and biofuels discussions. Where is this biomass actually coming
from? Even if it is so-called renewable biomass, how do we trace that back
to how that land was originally intended to be used? There is movement
beyond looking at just food-to-fuel conversion.
The second generation really after corn and sugarcane and so forth is
looking at cellulose. From a commercial standpoint, cellulose fermentation,
which we do some of, is still in its infancy.
From a research standpoint, we have many solutions we can provide. Some
piloting has occurred, and some full- scale plants exist that convert fibre
to ethanol, but they are not stand-alone plants and they rely on certain
economic conditions to be there.
I would suggest that if the feedstock issue can be resolved, and the
lowest hanging fruit again is waste biomass, and if you can find effective
ways of converting waste biomass into ethanol, that still has a place in the
Even if all our transportation was to be electrified and all the
electricity would come from completely renewable sources, hydro, wind,
geothermal, solar, et cetera, there is a place for biofuels for long-haul
transportation, for shipping, for aviation and other areas where
electrification will be very challenging.
Going back to your question on the economics of ethanol production from
cellulose, in the most recent studies from NREL, the National Renewable
Energy Laboratory, some analysis was done on cellulose to ethanol, and
numbers came up to be about $5 a gallon, $1.25 a litre if you like, and
although that is in the ballpark, it is not quite there. Sugar ethanol is at
less than $2 or $1.50 a litre production costs.
I think we are in a transition, and obviously if the feedstock is free,
if it comes from waste or even has a negative value where we would have to
pay tipping fees for it to be disposed of or it had an environmental
degradation problem so it had a negative cost to the taxpayer in other ways,
it would make only sense to convert it into something as useful as ethanol.
I am still a champion of ethanol, just not from food.
Senator Mitchell: You mentioned electrification of transportation.
Maybe you have answered this question, the trade-off. You would see greater
potential at least for non-long-haul for electrification, plug-in hybrid,
that kind of thing. I have been trying to get a bit of a sense from
witnesses about how quickly you think that comes and how big does it come.
It just seems that plug-in hybrid is better than just pure electric in a
Canadian context where 60 kilometres or 80 kilometres does not get you very
What is your sense of the future and the velocity with which this may
Mr. Cicek: Right. I am a big believer in plug-in hybrid vehicles.
I have been involved with them since 2005. I actually organized a conference
in Winnipeg in 2007 around this subject.
I think they are here already. They are here because I have driven one in
January in Winnipeg, happily. They are here because OEM, the manufacturers
of cars, are making them and they are on the market or will be more so in
the future, and they are here because they are very much like a regular car,
if you like.
You get to plug your car in; you do not have to plug it in. That is the
big difference between an electric vehicle and a plug-in vehicle. If the
energy costs in your province or in your state are such that electricity
makes a lot of sense to you, you are going to feel inclined to plug your car
in. However, if does is not, and you feel it is a burden, you will be
driving it on fossil fuels or hopefully on biofuels.
The plug-in hybrid vehicle is here, and I think it will be an important
part of how we deal with transportation until we have the battery technology
and the range to eliminate the anxiety the driver would have driving a full
I own a cottage or have access to one, and I cannot drive out there with
an electric vehicle. I just cannot get there. I would have to buy another
vehicle or rent one just for that activity, and Manitobans are drivers. We
have a big province and we love to access nature and we have a substantial
cottage industry. People will not transition into an electric vehicle until
that range anxiety is resolved.
I see plug-in hybrid vehicles to be that transitional technology.
Electricity in Manitoba is 99 per cent renewable. We make our own energy in
that sense, so we would eliminate importing natural gas or fossil fuels
generally in gasoline diesel if we could convert all our fossil fuel needs
into electricity, but one has to consider what the public wants to do, and
they do not want to change behaviour.
As an engineer, I would like to provide the public a technical solution
so they do not have to change behaviour. I know it is very difficult for
people to change.
Senator Mitchell: Just a technical question. There are clearly
pure electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, which I plug in, no gas, no backup.
There are non-plug-in hybrids like the Prius, which creates its own
electricity and then supplements the fossil fuel engine, and then there are
plug-in hybrids, which would be a combination.
Does the plug-in hybrid also generally create its own electricity so that
it would have three stages? You could charge it or just use the charge that
it creates as it is braking or whatever else it does, so it would have all
three of those power sources?
Mr. Cicek: Precisely. As a matter of fact, if you were never to
plug in your plug-in hybrid, it would turn into a Prius.
Senator Mitchell: Exactly.
Mr. Cicek: Does that make sense?
Senator Mitchell: It does, because they have just started bringing
out plug-in Priuses. They were originally just self —
Mr. Cicek: Right. The plug-in Prius is not on the market yet. The
one I drove for a few weeks to test it is one of the 10-vehicle fleet that
is in Manitoba to be tested in settings that expose it to many people, so
in-fleet settings, and the University of Manitoba was one such fleet that
had this vehicle available.
It provides you with a sense of confidence that this vehicle would work
in Manitoba conditions. Obviously the biggest one is winter driving, heat,
issues related to how to plug in, the convenience of it, et cetera, so we
filled out large surveys after we drove those vehicles to get a sense of
Again, if you had no inclination or time to plug your plug-in hybrid
vehicle in, it would still have regenerative braking. It would still have
the aerodynamics, the structure of a regular hybrid car, and get you that
Senator Mitchell: You had an interesting chart here on harvesting
for bioenergy, the comparisons of biomass yields, and the number for cattail
was 14.7 t/ha.
Mr. Cicek: Tonnes per hectare, dry tonnes.
Senator Mitchell: Right, and that takes 90 days to produce. Are
those 14.7 tonnes as dense a fuel as say switchgrass, which takes three
years to grow less of?
Mr. Cicek: Yes, those are dry tonnes.
Senator Mitchell: Do they produce the same amount of heat unit for
unit that it takes switchgrass three years to produce?
Mr. Cicek: Yes, in the sense that if you take a dry gram or tonne
of one biomass and compare it to the other in terms of higher heating value
or combustibility, if you like, it is very similar.
The higher heating value of a cattail, a switchgrass pellet, is very
similar to that of even lignite coal, so the issue there is really the
original form of that biomass.
A cattail is a very tall 12-foot plant that has a structure such that you
would have to dry it and pellet it because it is a very fluffy material, so
you would have to spend some energy and effort to condense that into a form
that would be transportable and combustible easily.
As far as comparing it to other biomass feed stocks, it is as potent from
a combustion perspective.
Senator Mitchell: You get way more of it off a hectare of land
than you do out of switchgrass. You get 50 per cent more in 90 days than
what switchgrass gives you in three years.
Mr. Cicek: You would. I guess I should clarify that. Wetland
biomass grows only in the summer and there is a 90- day growth period in
which this biomass reaches maturity. Then when you harvest that biomass, you
do not grow it again until next year, so 90 days is flawed way of thinking
However, there are no inputs. There is no agricultural land being
sacrificed. There is certainly the opportunity of going small scale and
harvesting this naturally without having to spend much effort.
Having said that, it is very distributed, so switchgrass or other reeds
that you might plant in an agricultural field you might plant in a larger
scale and have easier access to. Going on a wetland in February and
harvesting biomass is a challenging thing to do.
The Chair: Dr. Cicek, there was a reference to ethanol at the
beginning of Senator Mitchell's questioning and I heard your answer. I want
to pursue it a little bit, not so much in the food argument.
When all the talk about ethanol was starting up a few years ago, the
impetus seemed to come from Europe. They were passing laws there to require
additives to regular gasoline for automobiles.
Do you have any data as to where they got to on that? At the time,
ethanol was being touted as a great investment opportunity, and I was one of
those suckers who saw my money disappear down a black hole. I just wondered,
is there some future for it?
Mr. Cicek: I do not have discrete data to share with you about
mandates that were instituted in Europe. We have an 8.5 per cent ethanol
mandate in this province, and there is a national biofuel mandate, 5 per
cent ethanol, 2 per cent biodiesel.
Those mandates have pushed the industry to look for the lowest hanging
fruit, the cheapest feedstock, the most known technology, the lowest risk
investments, and those have been to a large extent exhausted, unless you are
willing to invest more in the food-to-biofuel area.
I think the big concern in Europe in meeting some of these challenges,
not just the current mandate but future mandates projected towards 2020 or
2030 in certain nations, looking at Sweden, Latvia, places where renewable
energy ratios have been going up and there is a push to further push them
up, is to source that feedstock for biofuels or biomass that is sustainable.
I find the most current and intense argument has been around the sourcing
of that feedstock. For example, there are instances where companies contract
out land in Africa or other places to grow food for biofuel production. They
claim it to be marginal lands. However, the local people would probably use
that land differently.
There is this challenge about land-use change around biofuels production,
and Europe is struggling with that. It is very important to trace the
If you are truly to be renewable and sustainable, one needs to make sure
that that feedstock is not coming from unsustainable sources. It does not
give you an answer, because I do not have that data, but those are the
things that are being currently discussed in Europe.
The Chair: Right, and a simplistic view of part of what you said
is that there is ethanol, there is ethanol, and there is ethanol.
I was involved in a venture in which one of the assets they alleged they
had at the outset was a contract with Ukraine to get all the by-product from
their agricultural industry and all the ethanol, and of course, it turned
out to be not of the right quality.
Thank you for that. I am going to send the transcript to certain people
Senator Banks: I am going to pursue that line of questioning too,
partly because the Government of Canada has invested very substantially in
cellulose-based production of ethanol, which has been brought either to or
very nearly to a commercial level.
The company in which the Government of Canada invested with respect to
research is called Iogen — I am sure you know about it — and the last we
looked, it was in the process of building commercial-level plants.
You just said a moment ago that the Manitoba-based feedstock available
for cellulosic production of ethanol has been exhausted. I have a hard time
understanding that because one of the things that they are using is the
straw that is left over after a wheat crop is taken off, for example, and in
this part of the world, exhausting that is pretty hard to do.
Mr. Cicek: If I said that, I did not mean that. I am sorry. I am
going to retract that.
I am not quite sure what ended up in the transcript, but what I meant to
say is this. With respect to the food-to-fuel discussion in Europe where
mandates were put into place, and maybe I confused that with Manitoba, much
of the feedstock there that was to be converted to ethanol or biomass
generally, they do not have any more of that there. As a result, they have
to go outside of that continent to bring that feedstock in. In Manitoba,
that is not an issue.
Senator Banks: Right, because Iogen explained to us the last time
we talked to them that as long as they had a supply of straw, for example,
which is a waste product for wheat and barley farmers, within I think a
radius of 100 kilometres, that made it practicable for them to do. They were
looking for places to actually build commercial plants to do that.
Mr. Cicek: Right. I had discussions with them actually some six
years ago, when they came to Manitoba to look for opportunities to set up a
It is not a surprise to me that that has not happened yet, and it is not
a function of feedstock availability or radius or even feedstock cost,
because the farmer is still going to charge you for baling and transporting
that material to your plant.
I think the challenge is to convert that material at a low cost to sugars
that that model requires for ethanol production. Iogen is an enzyme company.
That is how they started. They made cocktails of enzymes to convert A to B
and they had cellulases. These enzymes convert cellulose to sugar.
However, traditionally enzyme treatment has been very expensive and
difficult. Those processes have challenges in terms of competing with
sugar-based fermentation, so those economic realities are still there.
Unless there are substantial subsidies from the feedstock sourcing, maybe
other means, I do not want to get into details, but some incentives for
those companies to set up plants, I think it will still be difficult to
compete with traditional ethanol production.
Senator Banks: Without subsidy, the market just is not there yet?
Mr. Cicek: Not at this point.
Senator Banks: Senator Mitchell and I are from the city of
Edmonton, which, as you may know, has contracted with a Montreal company to
convert solid waste to energy. I think it is one of the first ones in the
country. We do not know how that is going to work yet. We will see, but we
are very hopeful.
How close are the things that you talked about, using biomass to
literally replace the use of fossil fuels? In your estimate, in practical
terms, given that there are a few pilot projects around the country and the
plant in Edmonton that is supposedly at a commercial level, how close are we
to being able to actually do that on a level that will replace fossil fuels?
Mr. Cicek: We are not very close to replacing fossil fuels. I
think that is more of a conceptual term in saying what is the potential.
We have enough biomass, definitely Manitoba, to replace all of the fossil
fuel needs we currently have. Different provinces might have different
Having said that, technologies like the ones used in Edmonton and many
others that are currently in commercial full-scale use in Europe and in
other parts of North America just depend on the economics to be right. It is
not a technical challenge any longer.
Municipal solid waste, for example, the organic fraction, is easily
converted in much of Europe to bioenergy through combustion, thermal
oxidation, regeneration of heat from that source, and the ash is then —
Senator Banks: Is it commercially viable to do that?
Mr. Cicek: It is commercially viable in their economic
circumstances where electricity costs are very high, green credits are
available to companies, incentives are in place, and there is a carbon
market in certain countries as well.
It is not economically viable yet here, again depending on the
jurisdiction, but I would say we are close. I think there are certain
barriers that are there because of regulation and standardization issues.
This committee and others could help with that, easing the way. However,
technologically, there are no more challenges to be overcome. It is a matter
Senator Neufeld: On page 2 on the top where you refer to waste
biomass in Canada, what are you referencing when you say woody non-stem
residue? How do you determine that?
Are there so many square kilometres in Canada and so many could grow this
and so many could grow that, even though it is 500 miles or 1,000 kilometres
away from anywhere that there is even a transportation route? Could you
Mr. Cicek: These are not my figures. I reference them from a study
that was done some years back, but the woody non-stem residue refers to the
materials that are left over when harvesting wood. That comes directly from
the forestry sector.
If we are to harvest logs from the forest, we leave behind much of this
residue. It is woody but it is non-stem, so it is not the stem of the tree,
if you like.
Senator Neufeld: It is the branches and the tops.
Mr. Cicek: Branches, tops, leaves, whatever is left over at the
site that could be accessed.
Now obviously, those challenges you suggested are definitely there. You
have to transport it out of the forest. You have to bring it to a
centralized facility. You have to then utilize it.
Some of these locations are remote and there are many challenges in
sourcing that biomass, but I guess this survey was done just to look at the
tonnage of availability.
If you are going in there to harvest wood anyway, many would say there
might be opportunities to harvest more than that. I guess that is the
argument one would make.
Senator Neufeld: I just wanted to check that out. I am familiar
with that because I am from British Columbia, and 50 per cent of the
forestry that happens in Canada happens in B.C.
We have looked at that very closely, we meaning British Columbia, in an
economical sense and it is very uneconomical. That is part of the problem.
Mr. Cicek: I agree with you.
Senator Neufeld: Okay, you agree with me on that?
Mr. Cicek: Yes, I agree economically not yet feasible compared to
current fossil fuel conditions, but it is a resource that is not used yet.
Senator Neufeld: Turning to electric vehicles, obviously you live
in one of the three provinces that have very low electricity rates and
generate today with almost 100 per cent clean energy. That is great. There
are some provinces that do not.
There are European countries that generate electricity with 50 per cent
coal today. The U.S.A. generates about 60 per cent from coal.
When we start talking about using electricity, I tend to think that that
is maybe not the total answer either, because if you convert, you have to
generate electricity someplace, somehow, and that is not always easy on a
large scale, in fact, almost impossible.
We also understand that the vehicle industry is basically the U.S. for us
in North America. If you cannot get California to do something, they are not
going to build a car that will fit. They will look at their own markets
Do you think electrical vehicles are just a small part of the whole issue
in Canada as we see it today and probably for a long time into the future
rather than a large part?
The second part of that is the batteries. Even in the Priuses and those
kinds of cars, we have not really, in my understanding, figured out how we
are going to treat that waste when it comes. In fact, we have a problem
coming at us today with those cars that have been produced with how we
dispose of the batteries that become totally obsolete after a number of
Folks, whether they think they can drive their cars for 10 years or not,
might have to determine by the battery that today it is a pile of junk and
they have to figure out how to get rid of it.
Mr. Cicek: I will address your first point on how big of a
solution would electric vehicles be, small or large.
I guess it is difficult to answer that fully. However, I certainly think
electrification of transportation is going to be a major player in Manitoba
because of the conditions you suggested. Our electricity is cheap and it is
Even if we electrified all vehicles in Manitoba today, we would still
only use a quarter of the electricity we export. Therefore, as far as
sourcing and availability, if you like, the green nature of our electricity,
there are no issues in electrifying transportation if the technology was
Obviously, if your source is coal, you do not want to do that. If your
source is oil, you do not want to do that.
Opportunities for the transportation sector driving more green and
renewable electricity are possible, particularly on a very small scale. Much
of the plug-in hybrid vehicle or electric vehicle sector is looking at
small-scale generation in your home, whether it be solar or other sources.
You could conceivably look at the electric car market driving renewable
electricity to some extent.
Will it be the main solution? No. It will be one of the many so-called
silver bullets that are out there, but it is going to play a role, in my
Battery disposal is an issue, and lithium sourcing is an issue. Obviously
battery life is getting better. Disposal is being discussed around
refurbishing and reuse for stationary sources, so if the battery in your
vehicle exhausts its life cycle, you can combine them together and make a
stationary storage solution for wind or solar or other sources where you can
store the energy for some time.
Some reuse and refurbishing ideas have been pursued. I think one has to
look at life cycle analysis, and if the life cycle of batteries is better
than the life cycle of fossil fuels, you go with them. If not, then you do
Senator Neufeld: If a battery has reached its life cycle in a car,
what you are saying is you can take it out of the car and use it someplace
else? Explain how you come to that rationale. To me, a battery is a battery
is a battery.
Mr. Cicek: I can expand upon that. In a car, the battery is being
cycled, filled and emptied, very often and it loses its capacity to
discharge energy after a certain number of cycles, so a lot of batteries are
still good in the sense that they would function, but they would not do the
job in the car where you need to soak up energy and discharge it quickly and
in a dense form.
There are research projects looking at those exhausted transportation
batteries for non-cycling, stationary applications. I guess we have to think
beyond a battery exhausting its technical life rather than its use life. In
a transportation vehicle, there is a use life that after eight to 10 years
you might have to look at.
That is the research that is ongoing. I think there is still an open
question on where that is going to go. I am just providing you with some
Senator Neufeld: Can you direct me to where that research is
taking place and by whom? If you are going to use it with wind, you are
going to cycle it too, maybe not directly as much as you will in a car, but
you are still going to cycle it because if you are going to store it, you
are going to use it. That just makes common sense. If you know where this
development is taking place, I would appreciate it.
Mr. Cicek: Can I give that information later on?
Senator Neufeld: Send it to the clerk and then we will all get it.
Senator Banks: Senator Neufeld obviously understands this, but I
do not. A battery is a battery is a battery.
If the battery will not discharge energy any more in the car and
therefore it has to be replaced, I load it up so it can store energy but if
I cannot make use of that energy. I do not get it. I am sorry to be obtuse.
Mr. Cicek: I am not a battery expert so I am just going to respond
to you from what I have read and talked to some of my colleagues about who
do work in this area.
The challenge with transportation batteries is the fact that you require
the power now and you require lots of it. Then when you recharge your
battery, you would like to fill that battery again as quickly as possible. A
transportation lithium ion battery has a certain function.
You might not discharge the energy or soak it up as quickly, and
therefore, your car might stop using that battery and you would have to get
a new one, although I do not think a Prius has that feature. I have not seen
many examples of a regular Prius having battery changes often.
The transportation use varies from how you would, for example, set up a
stack of these things and a turbine turns and you slowly pick up that
electricity but you do not have to discharge it quickly. The idea there
would be to use the battery in a form it was not intended originally to be
used, but by refurbishing that stack, you would still make use of it without
having to dispose of it in a landfill.
The idea is to avoid disposal and find a use for those batteries that are
no longer functioning in the original intent. I think it would be best that
you get the details of that from the experts, and I can direct you to the
people who do research in that area. I am not one of them.
The Chair: Doctor, thank you very much for taking the trouble to
come here this morning to meet with us. It is a very interesting and rather
technical and complicated area for us, but certainly one key part of the
As our next witness, honourable senators, we are blessed this morning to
have with us Ray Hoemsen, Director of Applied Research and Commercialization
at Red River College, and with him, his colleague, Ken Webb, who is not on
the notice, but Mr. Hoemsen invited Mr. Webb to join him.
Mr. Hoemsen is a professional engineer and has held numerous leadership
positions in the public and private sectors, and as a volunteer in his
community and profession. Since 1986, he has specialized in the business of
science and is the former director of the University of Manitoba's Industry
Liaison Office as well as the vice-president and director of operations for
the university's Smartpark Development Corporation.
Mr. Hoemsen was appointed in June 2004 as the director of applied
research and commercialization at Red River College. He recently completed a
17-month half-time secondment to the Natural Sciences and Engineering
Research Council, where he served as the visiting executive manager of the
NSERC Prairies Division.
Sir, we are delighted to have you here. I am David Angus, the chair, and
my colleague to my right is Senator Grant Mitchell, the deputy chair. The
other senators' names are there, and we will have questions after your
Ray Hoemsen, Director, Applied Research and Commercialization, Red
River College: I would like to introduce my colleague, Ken Webb. Mr.
Webb is our vice-president of academic research at the college, and he was
able to rearrange his schedule this morning to be here.
Mr. Webb and I are going to tag-team; he will do the first third of the
presentation, talking about how colleges work in applied research and our
capabilities relevant to the topic of the hearing, and then I will get into
some more specific cases, and then we have some potential answers to the
questions that you raise.
Ken Webb, Vice-President, Academic Research, Red River College:
Thank you for inviting us today. Because I am a late entry, you did not have
my biography, so I will tell you a bit about my background.
I am a professional engineer as well and vice-president, academic and
research, at the college, a position I have held for about 20 years. I am
responsible for our program but also our research portfolio.
In previous lives, I have held a number of positions that dealt with
renewable energies. I at one time managed the energy management programs for
the Province of Manitoba for commercial industrial buildings, and in my
graduate studies, I actually studied in renewable energies looking at novel
solar technologies, although that was some time ago.
Energy is near and dear to my heart. I am very happy to have the
opportunity to speak to you about it today.
First I would like to applaud the work of the committee and the
government for taking this initiative. I think that human capital, energy
and water are probably three of the critical elements needed for prosperity
of any nation; in fact, that probably goes beyond prosperity into our actual
sovereignty and maybe even our ultimate existence.
It is important that countries have national policies around those
issues. Forty years ago when we last tried to have a national energy policy,
it ended up being a little divisive, perhaps, and maybe a little
disappointing in many ways to us as a nation. There is an old saying that if
the best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago, then the second best time is
We want to talk to you about what we know best. You will hear many
opinions from across the country, at least we hope you will, and people will
give you information and advice about many things. Today we will limit
ourselves to the things we know best, and those are colleges and how they
can help support and play a role in a national energy policy.
Let me tell you a little bit about Red River College. We are a
polytechnic-like institute — think of NAIT, SAIT, BCIT and some of the
larger Ontario colleges.
We have a business and technical background. We are the second largest
institution in the province. Our cousin, the University of Manitoba, being
the full medical-doctoral university, is the largest. We have over 100
programs and probably touch about 32,000 students a year.
We are located across Southern Manitoba in multiple campuses. We are
about a $150-million a year operation, with probably 2,000 employees, so if
we were a community, we would be one of Manitoba's larger small towns.
The Chair: You have nine campuses across Southern Manitoba,
Mr. Webb: Yes, we have four locations in Winnipeg. We have our
major campus out by the airport, and one in the Exchange District. We have
an aviation campus at Stevenson Airfield or the Winnipeg airport. We have
our language training centre in the Union VIA Rail station. We take three
floors of that building.
Then we have four regional campuses in towns in Southern Manitoba. We
also have a mobile training trailer that we can take to just about any
community that has road access.
In Manitoba, those of you from the West will probably recognize that we
have a polarized population distribution in that 75 per cent of all of
Manitoba lives within probably an hour's radius of Winnipeg, and the rest of
our population is spread over the rest of the province. With such a
concentration of population in and around Winnipeg, and that is our area
that we serve, we end up being de facto a provincial institution as well as
a regional one.
We are talking a little bit today about college-based applied research,
and that is something that is relatively new to colleges in a formal way
probably in the last 10 years. Prior to formalizing, colleges have always
worked with industry to support them and we always did problem solving;
industry would bring us problems, and we would use our students, our faculty
and our resources to help them solve their problems.
In the 1980s and 1990s when we realized Canada was experiencing a
productivity challenge or perhaps an innovation challenge, colleges looked
at how can we more formally respond and support that need in Canada and were
looking at taking our research capacity, our problem-solving capacity, and
trying to improve upon that and make it more formal, more well known and
structured and accessible to Canadian companies, especially small and
medium- sized enterprises.
You will find if you look across the country that Canada's colleges have
become very much engaged in the applied research agenda over the last 10 or
15 years. Applied research is problem solving. We focus on the how rather
than the why. Universities, of course, are our primary research institutions
in this country and they focus across the whole research range, including
discovery. They are very much into identifying new knowledge. In fact, you
will find that in the mission statements of most universities. That is not
where colleges play. We are not in the discovery research, we are in the
application and in the innovation, so how to adopt and adapt new
technologies help business be more productive, innovative and competitive.
We focus on the work of our students and faculty, so we focus on the
research, how it supports our programs and solves problems for industry. We
focus less on the individual professor; our research at colleges is
typically not professor-based so much.
The Chair: You do grant degrees at the Red River?
Mr. Webb: Yes, we do. We are a degree-granting institution.
The Chair: Can you put a one-liner on the record as to the main
difference between the college and the university?
Mr. Webb: I would say that the university has the scope of
creating new knowledge, and the colleges have the scope of applying
knowledge. That is not to say that those institutions' mandates are
exclusive, but I think that is the major difference.
Colleges typically have more flexible intellectual property policies, and
that makes it particularly helpful for working with industry. Very often
industry needs to have access and ownership of intellectual property that
may be created out of innovation, and colleges typically have policies that
allow that to happen. When we work with an industry, we can grant them
intellectual property rights.
That can be tremendously important in some areas. We work a lot with
aerospace, and a lot of the aerospace companies, if they invent new
applications or new knowledge or intellectual property, sometimes they have
to actually assign those rights back to the manufacturer.
For example, if StandardAero is developing new technologies for repairing
gas turbine engines and it is a General Electric gas turbine engine, if they
discover any new intellectual property, not only do they need the right to
use it themselves, they actually have to be able to grant it back to General
Electric. Of course, they cannot do that if they do not have the rights
themselves. That can be very important.
Giving a bit of brief history of the applied research at Red River
College over the last decade, you can see it is growing fairly strongly. We
have four applied research centres in the areas of applied research and
Sorry for the acronyms you will see on some of our slides. They are used
in order to get the words on the page and to work with educational jargon.
We have four research centres. CARSI is the Centre for Applied Research
in Sustainable Infrastructure, so think green buildings. ATEC is Advanced
Transportation and Energy Centre, so think hybrids and alternate fuels and
cold weather testing in engine vehicle performance. CATT is the Centre for
Aerospace Technology and Training, so think of engine repair and overhaul
and performance. CNDI is the Centre For Non-Destructive Inspection, so using
new technologies; think of MRIs and CAT scans for people. This is doing the
same thing for products.
If you create a new wing for the Joint Strike Fighter and you want to
make sure there are no defects in it, you want to do that by taking an X-ray
of it and looking at the inside to know that that component has no flaws.
Senator Banks: That is how they found the cracks in the F-35.
Mr. Webb: Yes. As we go more and more to composite technology, it
is harder and harder to inspect the components and know if there are flaws
in them without cutting them open, so we need these new technologies in
order to make sure that those components are safe before they go on the
Like most good institutions, we have won our share of awards and
recognition. I mentioned CARSI, the Centre for Applied Research in
Sustainable Infrastructure. There we have environmental chambers, so we can
do side-by-side testing; we can do component testing of windows, doors,
walls, and put them under extreme climates, either extreme heat or extreme
We can look at structural health monitoring, so we put monitoring inside
buildings and know how they perform under environmental and thermal stress.
We can look at cold weather performance, and we are hoping to create a chair
in looking at the performance of green buildings. A lot of work has been
done on designing better buildings over the last couple decades in Canada.
We need to have some follow-up and find out whether they work, and if they
do not work, why not, and what are the lessons learned so that we can keep
improving our technologies.
The Chair: It is probably a naive question, but you talk about
32,000 students. You refer to yourselves as a post- secondary institute. You
describe it as a college as opposed to a university. Yet with all these
different projects in these different divisions, it sounds like a place for
people who already have degrees and quite advanced educations.
I am trying to visualize your 18-year-old coming out of high school
testing for cracks on the wings of the F-35. I think it is just a
perspective. I am sure you have a good answer.
Mr. Webb: The average age of a student at our college is 27 years
old. Only 25 per cent of our students come to us directly out of high
school. Over half of them, 50 per cent in any given year, will be coming to
us out of the workforce, so they are people who may or may not already have
some post-secondary education and they are looking to advance their careers
and move on up.
The Chair: The key word, as opposed to post-secondary, is
Mr. Webb: Certainly that is a big part. Of the 32,000 students we
will serve each year, probably 13,000 are full-time students and about
19,000 or 20,000 will be part-time.
The other key element of the role of applied research in colleges is that
we particularly want to connect with small and medium-sized enterprises. In
Canada, the work of the National Research Council shows that we do a good
job in the research capacity of connecting with major corporations and large
companies. We connect up well with the RIMs of the world and others.
The Chair: What about the Harvard Business School concept of
advanced management courses? You have people from companies who get sent
down there to hone their skills.
Mr. Webb: We do run some advanced technology management courses
for people who are techies who want to move up in their company and
corporation and need the business, finance and innovation skills.
We also find that our graduates, when they go out and get hired with
small and medium-sized enterprises, so they could be technicians or
technologists, might be the R&D department of that company.
Most small and medium-sized enterprises are so busy keeping their product
going and their processes going, they do not have a lot of time to
experiment and to do R&D and look at new technologies. Often when they hire
a new graduate who has been exposed to applied research and the newer
technologies, it can be the source of innovation, percolating upwards.
We call it technology diffusion, and one of the reasons colleges have
been so aggressive in becoming more engaged in applied research is so that
our graduates, when they go out to industry, know and understand the
research process. They know it has to have a commercial payoff, they know it
is not just an experiment, they know it is real world and they are doing
this so a company can add value to its product, so they can create products
someone will buy or pay more for.
Historically, research has been more associated with the university
model. But I would suggest that a lot of it, not all of it, has been
discovery research, finding that new knowledge. We do not do that but we
want our graduates to know and understand innovation and research processes
so they can be the source of innovation in the new companies.
We have the Advanced Transportation and Energy Centre. It is a dedicated
research space at the college where we look at using biodiesel, electric
propulsion, ethanol, hydrogen hybrid fuels, and cold weather product testing
and development. Mr. Hoemsen will tell you a little more about that later.
We also have an Electric Vehicle Technology and Education Centre, so
Manitoba is aggressively looking at the introduction of hybrid and electric
With that, I will turn it over to my colleague to tell you a little bit
about the details.
Mr. Hoemsen: I am going to give you a few examples of some of the
work we have been engaged in and then we will get to your questions and some
In the Advanced Transportation and Energy Centre, we focus on increasing
fuel efficiency of fleets, the use of renewable fuels, not the development
of the fuel itself, and especially how these fuels and fleets work in cold
weather operations. That is our unfair advantage here in Manitoba. For
several months, we have lots of cold weather, so we want to take advantage
We have received good support from the federal government through Western
Diversification to help establish some of our facilities, and over the last
six or seven years, we have worked with companies of all sizes, from a local
SME, Kraus Global, who manufacturers dispensers of fuel, and we are engaged
with them on a hydrogen product, to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited on the
same project as well as Manitoba Hydro and Mitsubishi from Japan. We also
participate in numerous public advisory bodies.
I am now on slide 11. I want to talk briefly about the all-electric
transit bus or e-bus project. This is essentially a public- private
partnership, and you might hear more about this from the premier this
afternoon. I understand he is presenting to you at 3:30.
We are part of a project with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. It is a big
player in Japan; it is about 10 per cent of their GDP. New Flyer is a local
manufacturer of transit buses and one of the largest in North America. The
project includes Manitoba Hydro, the province and ourselves.
It is a three-year $3-million project, and basically the goal is to
develop a prototype advanced battery-powered electric bus; it is not a
trolley bus, and it is basically an integration of the technologies from New
Flyer and Mitsubishi.
Our role is going to be involved initially with the charging system. We
are also involved with the battery assembly and integration into the coach,
and then once the coach is ready for operation, we will be involved with the
What we are really trying to do is test the operational capabilities
under our extreme climatic conditions, because as you may be aware, we go
from one extreme to the other. We go from minus 35 to plus 30 in the
summertime. Potentially, this is a showcase for this technology to potential
markets for the manufacturers across North America.
I have just one other comment on electricity before I move on to some
specific projects. The question came up I think with the previous witness
concerning the use of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids in the country.
I believe you will have a later presentation at another venue by Electric
Mobility Canada, and they will probably talk about their electric vehicle
technology road map. They are predicting there will be half a million
electric vehicles on the road in Canada by 2018.
Some of the past projects we have been involved with at ATEC or the
Advanced Transportation and Energy Centre go back to about 2005, and some of
these are multi-partner projects with maybe 15 or 20 partners involved.
Our role typically has been in the field application of these. The hybrid
hydrogen internal combustion engine bus came out from San Diego in what they
call fare service, so customers were paying to ride the bus in Winnipeg for
three weeks in January. We were generating hydrogen, troubleshooting, fixing
little things and making sure that that part of the test went smoothly. We
then did work on the demonstration fuel cell bus that ultimately went to the
Our students built a solar car, and this was kind of an interesting
project because it was eight months from the time they decided to enter the
North American competition until they completed the race, and that is quite
an accomplishment for a first-generation student-designed vehicle. They also
won four of the 10 prizes and we were the first college to participate in
this, which was primarily a university competition. We were quite proud of
the work our students did.
We have also been involved in the emissions side with more
conventional-powered vehicles, diesel-powered buses, with Motor Coach
Industries, the largest manufacturer of inter-city buses in North America,
and they are located here. Think of the Greyhound-type bus. We basically
helped integrate engine transmission combinations into the vehicles to meet
U.S. environmental requirements in 2007 as well as 2010.
We also worked with the National Research Council to identify
opportunities for electric vehicles for Canadian manufacturers; there is a
public report we did on that. If you want a copy, we can arrange to get it
As Professor Cicek mentioned previously, there was this plug-in hybrid
electric vehicle demonstration in Manitoba, and we were involved with that
for the last three years on a fleet of 10 vehicles. We actually did most of
the conversions with an after-market plug-in battery pack and then monitored
the vehicles for three years and did some fine tuning so they would work
better in our climate.
I want to touch briefly on the National Research Council's Industrial
Research Assistance Program. We have a network member agreement with them
concerning sustainable infrastructure and transportation, and we have had
that since 2008. It has evolved over the years from just doing awareness
building events to now we are doing things like putting together a cluster
map of local capabilities in Manitoba, relevant to sustainable
infrastructure and transportation, which is primarily ground transportation.
We also offer technology advisory support services for small and
medium-sized companies where we can spend three to five days investigating
something relative to their company concerning infrastructure
For example, for one manufacturer, we are looking into the application of
lithium batteries, what are the safety considerations, how do they perform,
how do you handle them, how do you integrate them with the manufacturing and
those sorts of things.
The Chair: I just want to understand the use of the National
Research Council. Is this a joint program between you and NRC, or how does
Mr. Hoemsen: We work with the IRAP, which is the field portion of
the NRC, and we do tie back to the labs as well through the field, but
basically, they give us funding to provide a service that is of value to
local SMEs. The focus we had locally was on sustainable infrastructure and
transportation — green buildings, green construction and ground vehicles
using renewable fuels.
The Chair: We heard a couple of people from the NRC the other day
and they talked about the new energy building code and all of these
programs, so it would be quite interesting for you to see the transcript, if
you have not already.
Mr. Hoemsen: I will take a look, thank you.
That is a nice segue into the energy performance of buildings. This
relates back to our CARSI lab facility.
We received a college focus grant from NSERC, the National Science and
Engineering Research Council, under the college envelope, and we have about
a $2.3 million grant to focus on commercial industrial buildings and how to
improve their energy efficiency.
This could encompass things such as reducing energy requirements in the
building, improving the performance of the building itself through
monitoring and limiting demand, expanding the use of renewable energy as
well as the embodied energy, which is the amount of energy it takes to
produce a part.
For example, and we have done some work in this area, if we can recycle
glass into concrete as part of the aggregate, that will reduce the actual
energy that is required to produce the concrete beam, because they already
used the energy to make the glass once, so now you save that later on.
Some of the projects that we have under way with SITRG, or the
Sustainable Infrastructure Technology Research Group, are looking at doing
air leakage testing of large commercial industrial buildings. Some of you
may have, under NRCan's Home Energy Program, had your house tested for how
much it leaks. They put the blower door on and pressurize the house. Until
we got this capability, they had only done two large buildings in Manitoba
but 20,000 homes, so this is a focus on doing a multi-storey building to see
how it is performing from an air leakage perspective and then the contractor
can make the building perform better.
We are working with a small local company on testing a heat-recovery
ventilator. It is in the lab right now.
We are doing a cold weather field evaluation of solar troughs; we have a
160-foot solar trough unit installed at the college. It is being
commissioned as we speak. Our partner with that is Manitoba Hydro, and they
want to know how well these troughs work in our climates.
We are also working on assessing thermal storage for greenhouses because
we have greenhouses across the country, and we have just received a
micro-wind energy turbine and we want to see if we can use that to help
produce compressed air storage for garages, things like that. Again, that is
with another local small company.
There is a project here we did with Motor Coach Industries, which I have
already touched on, and I want to say that it was a highly successful
project. We had five students working on with it three instructors. The
company hired several students afterwards, and now the results have been
incorporated in about 20 per cent of their product, which is exported
primarily. It was a very successful project, and we have done several more
with them since.
I am now on page 18, talking about opportunities for R&D support. I just
want to mention that within the NSERC role, NSERC is one of the tri-councils
for funding research in the post-secondary sector. They have about a
billion- dollar a year budget. There is an envelope for colleges and a
community innovation program, and of the six programs they have, we have
participating so far in five of them. Mind you, two are still waiting to see
if they will actually get funded.
They have rolled out a number of new programs aimed at helping colleges
work with local community to solve local problems.
Of course, we worked with the National Research Council, for example the
Centre for Surface Transportation Technology in Ottawa and the fuel cell
centre in British Columbia as well. We also have these network member
agreements with the local office.
We are in discussion with Automotive Partnerships Canada. This would be
related to electric vehicle technology.
I wanted to mention as well SR&ED, the scientific research experimental
development tax program. There will be something coming out soon apparently
that says for any company that works with the post-secondary sector on a
research project, their company contribution will be explicitly eligible for
R&D tax treatment. That will make the administration of that program much
easier, but it will also incent more companies to work with the
In the background material we were provided, there were several questions
you had raised, and we attempted to give you some input into how to approach
the development of a strategy for the advice you are giving to the federal
We think one key element of a successful strategy is to support applied
research, to adopt, adapt and improve existing technologies, and to
commercialize new ones. Ninety-five per cent of technology in Canada comes
from elsewhere, so it is very important that we adopt it and work with local
manufacturers to make it work in our environment. In my presentation, I have
some examples with some SMEs that we are working with. Related to that, it
is very important to raise awareness and transfer that knowledge out to
people so they know that, for example, solar trough will or will not work in
Sometimes a failure is good too, because if you know it is not going to
work, you are not going to raise unnecessary expectations.
The second question you have is what specific goal should we adopt as a
core of a Canadian energy strategy. I think it is important that we increase
energy-related R&D spending to make sure that we remain competitive, and we
can look at the U.S. and EU as benchmarks.
Notwithstanding the current fiscal issues in the EU, they are looking at
contributing as much as $3.8 billion towards climate change and sustainable
energy, so they are making a big investment. That is something we should be
What are some of the foundational principles that could underpin a
Canadian energy strategy? I address this from the demand and supply side.
From the demand side, we should try to emphasize the need to explore and
exhaust all feasible and cost-effective measures to reduce energy use and
peak demand. This would reduce the need to expand the supply of energy and
related infrastructure, at least in the short term.
On the supply side, I think it is very important that we continue to
encourage the use of renewable energy. The previous witness I think was
asked a question or he made a point that I agreed with, that the local
energy costs will have an impact on that.
In Manitoba, we have relatively cheap electricity compared to other
jurisdictions, so that can impede the adoption of new technologies because
of economic viability. It takes longer to get the payback to put a new
The fourth question is this: What are the key elements of an action plan
to put the energy strategy into play? You have to identify not only what
needs to be done but also who will do it, and if it is in your mandate,
where the resources will come from.
Admittedly, we have a biased point of view, but we think there is a role
for the post-secondary sector in this. Federal science-based agencies as
well could help support this initiative.
Who are these main players? I have already touched on that — the
post-secondary sector, the public labs and facilities. There is a lot of
good capacity in the universities as well as the NRC.
From the private sector and utility perspective, I think there has to be
a willingness there to work with the public sector and to seriously consider
the results for implementation.
I believe the last question you had concerned how we can facilitate
realization of the strategy. One thing from a college perspective is that
there is a program currently within NSERC; it is about $40 million a year
out of their billion- dollar budget, but it is to support college-specific
applied research programs, and if there is a way to expand that to look at
the renewable energy applications with a greater concentration, that would
I have two or three more slides to go, just talking about sector-specific
With regard to sustainable transportation, testing and demonstration of
electric vehicles in northern climates is very important.
We do support the recommendations of Electric Mobility Canada's electric
vehicle technology road map, which I will not go into detail here other than
to say they are looking at amendments to codes and standards, charging
infrastructure, leading by example, for example having federal fleets be
early adopters, looking at initiating Canada's green highway.
The other point relevant to sustainable transportation is that we should
not overlook the other needs that are out there. For example, if we are
going to introduce a half million electric vehicles in Canada by 2018, how
are first responders going to respond when they show up at an accident and
there is an electric vehicle involved? You have to treat that differently
than a conventional vehicle. There is quite a large training requirement
just in that alone, and there will be other effects as well.
With regard to sustainable infrastructure, we are looking at enhancing
the support of applied research not only to improve the energy efficiency of
buildings but also to do performance testing to see if green buildings
actually do perform as well as people think they do. We should do what we
can to extend the life of existing buildings and infrastructure because if
you can make a building last an extra 10 years, that is good from a
sustainability point of view.
With regard to manufacturing, more work should be done looking into
sustainable processes and technologies in the manufacturing process itself,
training and implementing best practices and how to use those technologies.
We should also encourage industry to capitalize on these opportunities where
possible, perhaps by encouraging investment in new technologies that result
in energy savings and have a long-term strategy in mind.
With that, I will conclude the formal presentation and be pleased to
answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: That material was very well prepared and very well
presented. These questions that you articulated and then responded to are
particularly helpful to us in our deliberations. Where did they come from?
Did we articulate those questions for you in your discussions with Mr.
LeBlanc here, or did you divine them?
Mr. Hoemsen: I think they came from looking at background material
that was available on the website.
The Chair: Excellent. My colleagues would agree with me that it is
helpful to us.
Senator Mitchell: Mr. LeBlanc just pointed out to me that those
questions were found in our report, Attention Canada!. It is very
good of you to pick up on that. Somebody has been reading our report.
What is a solar trough?
Mr. Hoemsen: It is like a solar dish except it is linear, so it
has a concave surface so if water fell on it and it was lying flat, the
water would stay inside it.
It is basically a mirrored surface that can attract the sun if you want,
and it concentrates the sun's energy onto a tube, and you can collect the
heat that comes off that tube, and later on you can use the heat to generate
electricity as well.
Senator Mitchell: It is a variation on a solar panel that is not
Mr. Hoemsen: It is a solar collector; that is right. Instead of
being flat, it is curved.
Senator Mitchell: Is it a more promising or more recent
Mr. Hoemsen: It is getting a lot of use in the U.S., which is why
we are looking at, seeing if it will work up here.
Mr. Webb: Because a solar trough uses a reflector, it concentrates
the sun's rays so you get a higher temperature. That means you can use it
for a broader rate of applications, including generating electricity.
Solar troughs have been used in countries like Spain and France and the
United States and hot sunny countries for a long time. A lot of them came
out of the 1970s when we had our first energy crisis.
The interest up here is whether they can be applicable in northern
climates. We have a very sunny climate in Western Canada but it is also very
cold, so the question is whether we can adapt this technology to perform
economically in cold climates.
Senator Mitchell: Can we?
Mr. Webb: That is what we are going to find out.
Mr. Hoemsen: We are just commissioning it now. It will be a
three-year exercise to find out.
Senator Mitchell: You said you have done quite a bit of work on
Mr. Hoemsen: That is correct.
Senator Mitchell: Do they get warm enough quickly enough inside to
clean the windows and keep them clean and make it livable?
Mr. Hoemsen: There are some public reports available, and we can
make them available to the committee later.
With regard to the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle demonstration we did,
it was a provincial-wide project. There were 10 demonstration vehicles on
which we did the after-market conversions with a battery pack from A123
Hymotion Systems, and then we operated the vehicles for three years and
monitored the performance.
We did run into some challenges as it got colder, especially below minus
20, with the windows not wanting to defrost initially and things like that
because there is not a lot of extra waste heat to heat the cabin. However,
by going back to your conventional interior car warmers and preheating the
vehicle before you get into it, we could address that problem.
We had some minor issues with the conventional battery, which apparently
most users encounter in this climate. Many of those vehicles are being used
as taxis, so they usually replace that battery with a more robust one and it
Basically, up to about minus 20, there are no huge issues that could not
be overcome, and below minus 20, as far as cabin heat, we could overcome
those by preheating.
Senator Mitchell: When you say after-market, you actually take a
gasoline-fueled engine and add a battery?
Mr. Hoemsen: We basically bought a conventional Prius and then
there was an after-market company called A123, which used to be in Canada
but is now in Minneapolis, and we bought battery packs from them and
converted the Priuses to plug-in hybrids. This was before Toyota came out
with its own version.
Mr. Webb: For the preheating, it was a conventional interior car
Senator Mitchell: Professor Webb, one of the things you started
with in your presentation was skills development. One of the features of our
study and our report I expect will be a labour strategy.
Most of what you are doing, which is excellent, is supporting energy and
energy policy through a labour strategy that supports technology development
and the development of a highly skilled workforce to work on these different
technologies, but there is also the issue of where do we get enough people,
enough apprentices and qualified tradespeople who can work in multiple huge
projects like the oil sands.
Do you have some thoughts about how Canada needs to structure its labour
strategy so that people from all across the country are available to work in
a place like Alberta where there is huge demand for skilled labour?
Mr. Webb: Yes, I do. The colleges exist to do two things. We
create careers for learners and a high-quality workforce for employers. The
second part, creating the workforce for the country, is part of our mission.
Manitoba struggles a little bit on the labour market side, although maybe
not so much as Alberta. How do we create those people? There are a couple of
things. One is we have to have more people going to post-secondary college
and university. We need more people to be successful once they go there.
We need a good system of national standards so that we have mobility so
the people trained in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland or Quebec or Alberta can
move to other parts of the country freely and readily and be recognized and
certified. Those are the things that we need for Canadians.
We know that Canada will not be successful in meeting its labour market
with our own population, and so that is why Canada and the provinces are
very strong on immigration. When skilled people come to Canada, we need to
be able to recognize their skills quickly and advance them into the labour
market in areas that can use their skills.
For example, the college is working with the Province of Manitoba on a
bridging program for foreign-trained tradespeople. We have a program where
people come in with an electrical background who have been trained as
electricians or electrical technicians in other countries. We can assess
them, find the gaps, put them into the minimum amount of training they need
so they can become certified, qualified and safe to work in the trades in
Manitoba. If they get a Red Seal qualification, they can then go on across
We also need to help people access the workforce who maybe traditionally
have not been accessing the workforce. In Western Canada, I am talking about
our Aboriginal population. We know that Aboriginal youth are the fastest
growing part of our population in Western Canada. They are the youngest part
of our population and are increasingly the people who need to come to
college to get the skills so they can enter and take jobs in economy and
they can participate in the economy and be part of the labour market as
opposed to sitting on the sidelines.
If we cannot do those three things, get our existing population in, get
the Aboriginal population to participate and be successful, and support
skilled immigrants, then Canada will not have the labour force it needs.
Those are the three areas we are working on.
Senator Mitchell: You mentioned that you have a mobile training
facility. Would that be directed largely at Aboriginal students?
Mr. Webb: Yes, it is directed at rural people who cannot make it
to a centre that has a vocational or trades training capacity, and it can go
anywhere that you can get a highway tractor-trailer unit in.
It looks like an ordinary semi-trailer on the outside. When you park it
and push a couple buttons, it expands to a 1,000-square-foot classroom and
We can do welding training, electrical, plumbing, transportation. It has
a hoist. We can take that to any community where we have road access.
We have them in Manitoba. They have them in other provinces. By and
large, the focus is on rural, and a strong part of that in Western Canada is
Senator Mitchell: That list of things that can be done largely
through colleges is really one of the most complete lists of what might go
into a labour strategy that I have heard in two and a half years. That is
Mr. Webb: We should know. It is why we exist. If we cannot give
you a good answer, then we are not doing our jobs.
Senator Banks: You both addressed the questions of buildings. Mr.
Webb, I am going to direct this question to you, but Mr. Hoemsen, you might
want to speak to it as well.
When you were talking about national standards, you were talking about
national labour standards, but you had a lot to do with buildings before you
came to the college, and you have both said that you have a lot to do with
buildings now. One of the things that we have noted that might be a subject
of a national energy strategy is a national building code. There is the
National Building Code, but it has no applicability in terms of force. It is
enforced on volunteer basis. Having had to deal with buildings, and given
what we saw yesterday in the Manitoba Hydro building, which was remarkable,
as the chair said, what is your view with respect to whether there should be
or whether there cannot be or whether there might be a national enforceable,
if that is the word, applicable building strategy?
That would also dovetail. If you are trained as a carpenter or a
pipefitter to meet these standards in one province and you want to go to
another province where the standards are different, the practices are
different, what are we going to do about that?
Mr. Webb: There are a couple of things we need to look at doing. I
am glad you liked the Hydro building. It is certainly the greenest
commercial building in the Americas, and maybe even in the world, and the
college was pleased to participate in that.
Their solar wall, the glass wall on the outside, is a novel adaptation of
technology first invented in Europe but applied differently in our cold
climate. At Red River College in our CARSI lab, we actually created a
mock-up bay — a full section of that window wall 18 feet high, 30 feet long
— and Manitoba Hydro did about $2-million worth of studies on it.
When they adapted this technology for Canada and built 22 storeys of it
on Portage Avenue, they were sure that it would work and that we would not
have a frozen popsicle out there in the middle of February.
Regarding the National Building Code, Canada is a federated nation, and
that is sometimes our strength and sometimes our weakness. I think a federal
building code is very important but it also has to have some flexibility to
be adapted locally.
For example, oil heat is not something that we see a lot of in Manitoba,
but you may see it in the Maritimes. We are a big country and a big nation
and we do have differences, and we need to have national codes or strategies
or policies, but we have to be able to accommodate a modest and reasonable
amount of regional difference.
Having said that, I am a big fan of federations, and I think that having
national codes, national strategies, national frameworks from which we
localize appropriately is a good way to go, for some of the reasons you
pointed out. It allows us to provide leadership in an effective manner. If
we all had to do the same thing in every province, invent our own building
codes and do it from the ground up, that would be tremendously inefficient
It does not allow national leadership if you do not have a national
strategy and a national code. I think by having the National Building Code,
you can provide some national guidance and provide leadership, because
sometimes leadership is in short supply and we cannot always replicate it in
I think it also forces the provinces to play together, and it is not
something we always want to do. When I was in the energy line of work,
running programs for the Province of Manitoba, those were partner programs
with the federal government, so we had our differences of opinion on what
the best way to do things in Manitoba was, but at the end of the day, we
were able to find ways that we fit within a national program and supported
it and I believe enhanced the national program by giving feedback.
There needs to be a way of ensuring that the national code is the overall
code and provides the strategic framework and guidance and that local
applications within it are reasonable and do not become barriers to
innovation, to labour mobility at the individual level, so that the
carpenter trained in Manitoba can work in Newfoundland and also at the
company level. A company from Manitoba needs to be able to bid on projects
in other parts of the country, so having frameworks and codes and standards
that accommodate that are essential.
I would say about the last point, the carpenter trained in Manitoba
having to work in B.C. and the different codes, it is incumbent upon us in
the training we give them to provide the skills so that they can read and
interpret codes and understand what those differences are. If there is
necessity to have some regional variation and have different codes, then the
people who are in charge of implementing them or interpreting them in the
field and building things need to be able to know how to understand and see
those differences. They have to have the education and training to be able
to interpret those documents. That is something that we need to give them in
their training program.
Senator Banks: Application or adaptation or adoption of the
federal building code is at the pleasure of the provinces. Has Manitoba
adopted the National Building Code?
Mr. Webb: My understanding is that Manitoba does adopt the
National Building Code, with modifications, but it takes some time. After
the new National Building Code comes out in year X, it might be year X plus
two or three before the province has assessed it and made its changes.
That also can be problematic. Whatever that process is, I think it needs
to be efficient and expeditious so that as different provinces adopt the new
code, you do not have a patchwork quilt of codes, some modern, some not so
modern, across the country.
Senator Banks: My last question is naive and just curious. You
talked today about the solar trough and its capacity to concentrate energy
to create more heat from the sun.
We learned yesterday how obtuse we were about understanding the effect of
the sun through our car windows even when it is 30 below and the usefulness
in that respect of the glass wall that you had at your college testing it
before it went into the building.
Would a solar a trough work best at extremely low temperatures behind a
Mr. Webb: Yes, in a short answer, but how that glass wall is
created is that the tube that runs down the centre of the solar collector
actually has a glass cylinder. It is inside a glass cylinder, so that glass
wall wraps around the pipe that is carrying the fluid that will take the
Senator Banks: It already has a glass wall.
Mr. Webb: It does.
Mr. Hoemsen: The technology behind it might change because
sometimes that tube will have a vacuum in it or not. That is what we are
Senator Banks: Which would make the best insulation? I guess the
Mr. Webb: The vacuum, because there is no air to conduct heat loss
from the tube through the space to the wall, but it is also considerably
more expensive to create and maintain that vacuum. Part of the research is
to say whether the added cost of higher insulation is a benefit that is
worth paying for.
Mr. Hoemsen: If I could speak briefly to the National Building
Code, some of the local adaptations Ken was talking about would be, for
example, two or three years ago, the National Building Code increased its
seismic requirement, but we do not really have earthquakes in Manitoba, so
that is something that the province would probably not want to enforce.
I have also been involved with standards writing as well as certification
testing in previous positions prior to coming to the college, and I think
one thing that would be important from a national code perspective would be
the ability to make sure that the new standards can be developed and adopted
fairly quickly. I was in the tractor industry, and it would take 10 years
from the time you started writing a standard until it actually got into use,
especially when you were starting from scratch. People work with the
Canadian Standards Association to get new standards in. I saw earlier this
week that they have actually certified their first electric vehicle charging
unit. We have to make sure it is easier for new standards to be adopted and
put into place so we can get these new technologies on line sooner.
Senator Neufeld: I want to ask you about the ability for trades
and professions to move across the country from jurisdiction to
jurisdiction. I know that British Columbia and Alberta initiated a quite an
extensive program for that. There is an acronym for it, and it escapes me
right now. Saskatchewan has also recently, probably within the last year or
so, joined that organization.
Is Manitoba active in trying to reduce barriers between provinces so that
professionals can move back and forth and do the same work that they would
perform in Manitoba? If you are an engineer in Manitoba and you are doing
engineering, and everything about what you are doing is fine and safe, I
cannot understand why you cannot come to British Columbia and do the same
thing, or Alberta or Saskatchewan.
I would like to know how Manitoba is moving forward on that change.
Mr. Hoemsen: I will let Mr. Webb speak to the trades aspect, but I
used to be on the professional engineers' council here in Manitoba, APEGM,
and there is mobility among engineers, generally speaking.
Senator Neufeld: Generally speaking. It is different in different
places. The professions are the hardest ones to get to change, and one is
Mr. Hoemsen: It is way better than it used to be.
Senator Neufeld: It is still not good though.
Mr. Hoemsen: In Manitoba, we have about 6,000 members, but I think
maybe only 4,000 live in the province, so it is a lot easier than it used to
be. For example, if you want to go to Quebec and register with OIQ, there is
a language requirement you have to meet as well.
Generally, it is improving from a professional engineering perspective,
but it could always be better.
Mr. Webb: Manitoba has signed on to the inter-provincial mobility
agreement, which says that if you are recognized and certified to practise
in one province, that other provinces need to recognize that and allow you
to practise. There are wrinkles and bumps in that and it does not always
work, but Manitoba has signed on.
The agreement that you are referring to, and I also forget the acronym, I
think that is a broader agreement where the three Western provinces are
banding together to make it easier to trade internationally, to have
companies work across boundaries so that construction companies, for
example, can do business in other provinces.
Manitoba is not a member of that club or group. Maybe you could ask the
premier about that when he speaks to you this afternoon. My understanding is
that currently, Manitoba would like to belong to that group, but they are
not yet accepted by the group. I think there is a broad set of reasons for
I think that group is far broader than just mobility, but that is a big
part of it. Not being part of that group does not mean we cannot have the
mobility. Manitoba does believe in interprovincial mobility, and that is why
they are in part investing in things like the fairness commissioner's office
and in fairness legislation that requires all the regulated professions in
the province to show cause, to have transparent licensing processes. They
can be called to account by the government if they are not fair in those
That is relatively new legislation. That is part of the work we are doing
with the foreign-trained apprentices. The Apprenticeship Board must be able
to show transparency and fairness in the licensing of foreign-trained or out
of province trained. It applies to engineers, nurses, doctors and
accountants. One of the roles the college is playing is giving training to
some of those professional organizations about how they might do that.
Senator Neufeld: I have been involved quite heavily with that. It
involves more than professions. It is to break down trade barriers between
We have much larger trade barriers between provinces than we do between
other countries. That is the fault of every province. I do not care which
province it is. They are all guilty of those kinds of things.
You did say that you are not accepted into that group. I want to follow
that a bit because I will follow it a bit at home. It was led out of British
Columbia. You say you were not accepted. Can you tell me why Manitoba would
not be accepted? Is that maybe at home a bit or are you saying that
organization will not accept Manitoba?
Mr. Webb: I will put my ordinary average citizen taxpayer hat on,
not my vice-president of Red River College hat, and my recollection may not
be perfect. I think that Manitoba was not a participant originally and we
may or may not have wanted to be a participant originally. I think that more
recently, there are a lot of recommendations coming from our business
community and other places that we should participate. I think it was one of
the recommendations given to the candidates during the recent provincial
election that this should be a priority that Manitoba needs to play.
I am not sure at the moment that Manitoba is not a member of that
organization. I am not sure if it is a matter of we have not asked to be a
member, that they have not asked us to be a member, that we have not been
accepted, or that we have not complied. I would not surprised if it is a
little of everything, but I think that is one of the top-of-mind issues. It
was active in the election, hence my suggestion that you may get a far more
rewarding and interesting answer if you ask the premier this afternoon.
Senator Neufeld: I will. I wanted to get it from the ground where
the rubber hits the road.
I know Alberta and British Columbia have made huge headway in breaking
down barriers. It is not just engineers. It is nurses; it is any profession
you want to talk about. If a welder can weld a pipeline in Alberta, why can
that welder not weld a pipeline in Manitoba or British Columbia? It was a
huge problem to break that barrier, and I cannot understand why.
In any event, I will ask the premier that same question or a variety of
it later on.
Mr. Hoemsen: Maybe I will offer one more thought related to
mobility. I know, for example, our transportation department has been
developing a new curriculum for the use of electric vehicles and hybrids,
but we then share that with other colleges across the country that are
developing their own curriculums. Most of the trades probably have a common
Mr. Webb: The trades have the CCDA, which is the Canadian Council
of Directors of Apprenticeship, and their job is to try to create that
mobility and those standards and have national standards that allow for
That can and does work, but you have 13 organizations there so sometimes
it takes some time. Certainly the Red Seal is the standard of certification
and it is recognized, so if you are a Red Seal journeyman in Manitoba, you
are recognized as a Red Seal journeyman in other provinces.
One of the roles the college plays is that we try to ensure that wherever
we do trades training, if there is a Red Seal available, that we train to
that standard. We recognize that our graduates need to work across the world
and they will either work outside the province, which we do not necessarily
want them to do, but we recognize the world is a global place, or they will
be competing with people from other parts of the country and the world. They
have to meet those standards and competencies.
The last thing I will say about whether Manitoba is in that Western
Canada group or not, I understand again, wearing my ordinary citizen hat,
that Manitoba has differed in opinion on some major issues with some of
their provincial counterparts and federal counterparts such as the Canadian
Wheat Board and the national securities commission. There are some major
issues like that.
Whether you are in a club or out of a club might be in part be based on
how much you share the values and the goals of the club, and maybe those
have not aligned enough yet. I do not know. Again, you will get a much
better answer this afternoon.
Senator Neufeld: I do not know what the Canadian Wheat Board has
to do with a welder.
I want to move on to electric vehicles. Maybe I misunderstood or I was
not listening carefully enough. Help me here. Did you say that you are
testing straight electric vehicles in a cold climate here in Southern
Mr. Hoemsen: We were testing plug-in hybrids, which were basically
a Prius with an after-market electric battery put into it so it could also
just run off the battery only. We have not tested a pure electric vehicle
We are in a project now where we are building a prototype of a pure
electric bus, so it will be a battery-powered bus. That is about a
three-year project, so it should be on the road later on this year.
The province is acquiring a fleet of electric vehicles. They have a
couple of Mitsubishi i-MiEVs, which are the small all-electrics. They have
got a Leaf and some others coming, so the idea is that some of those will be
coming over to the college as well for evaluation in our climate.
Senator Neufeld: Did you say you had trouble with warming them on
Mr. Hoemsen: When it got extremely cold, yes.
Senator Neufeld: I think you said minus 20.
Mr. Hoemsen: Minus 20.
Senator Neufeld: I live in Northern B.C. where minus 20 in the
wintertime is pretty normal. You are saying it is okay if you preheat the
vehicle with some kind of car warmer. How long does that last, 10 minutes?
Mr. Hoemsen: Once the car is running, you will get some heat but
can you get it to address when the temperature is cold outside. If it is
below minus 20, use of the interior warmer gets you cleared up enough to
start to drive off, and then the heat that is coming out of the vehicle
after that should be enough to keep it clear.
If you look at these cabs, a lot of them idle all the time in the winter
because of that.
Mr. Webb: Part of the experimentation will be to look at where
those applications work and where they do not.
The preheat system demonstrated that up until minus 20 or thereabouts, if
you started with a clear window, you could keep it clear. If you started
with a frosted window, you did not have enough heat to defrost it and then
keep it clear.
Certainly in Manitoba and Northern B.C., there are many days in a row
where it could be more than minus 20, so it might be that certain
applications of electric vehicles with the technology we have today may not
It may be used in fleets, cabs, delivery vehicles, applications where the
vehicle is running all the time and you can start it clear and keep it
clear, but we also look at creating and adapting new technologies that will
extend the range and application of some of these vehicles.
That is one of the reasons we want to do it here. I guess the old saying
is if we knew the answer, it would not be research. We need to find out just
how far we can push that technology.
The interesting thing Mr. Hoemsen mentioned with the Prius, which does
have a gas engine in it, is that the weakest link in that system was the
regular battery that you use to start up and run your radio and lights. It
was not robust enough for the Canadian climate, and probably half the
problems we had with the vehicle were overcome by putting in a stronger
There was no real new technology, no real innovation other than
recognizing that there is more than just the propulsion system to be thought
Senator Neufeld: I guess the reverse is true in a hot climate with
air conditioning. That would be a difficulty also if it is difficult in a
cold climate with heat. Would that be correct?
Mr. Webb: Yes. In fact, that can be an even harder one because the
high temperatures in a hot climate put a strain on the battery system, the
Senator Brown: I was very interested in your comments when you
were answering your own questions and saying what are the foundational
principles that should underpin a Canadian energy strategy.
You have said we should reduce energy and peak demand and also we should
expand the supply of energy and its related infrastructure.
I am interested in trying to find out how we can have a Canada-wide
energy strategy. If we cannot, as Senator Neufeld has said, send welders
across our borders, how can we agree on a national strategy for energy?
The four provinces in the West produce more energy than they use. They
export energy in huge quantities. There are six provinces that are
It seems as though we need somebody like Solomon to protect us without
tearing the baby in half. We need to be able to answer those two problems,
and they are the biggest problems we have. There is no doubt about it.
We spend a lot of money from Alberta sending it to Ontario, and Ontario
buys an incredible amount of valving and items that go into the oil sands
and then ends up trashing us in the newspapers. I want to know how we can
bridge over that with very special kinds of people who can talk from both
ends of the spectrum for us.
Mr. Webb: I am certainly not Solomon, but in many organizations
and groups I have dealt with, you try to come to common ground for a greater
goal where everybody can benefit, but you are working with groups or
organizations or people that come from different backgrounds, different
cultures and different beliefs. How do you create one size in which they can
all find a role and a comfort and a benefit from?
When we do that, we tend to try to start from some basis of guiding
principles or common ground or whatever, and if we start off trying to get
the group to agree that this is a good thing, it is a noble goal, it is
something that is very important, and I believe in a national energy
strategy is, and then we can elicit the principles that these are the
beliefs we have and the principles that will provide a fair and just and
Then we keep that list of core guiding principles near to us as we go
through our discussions, and we have our differences and we have our
arguments and our debates. At the end of the day, we always try to move
forward on achieving the goal and using our guiding principles to help us
through those debates where we disagree.
Certainly, at my institution, when we do let us say academic planning,
not in the order of importance of a national strategy by any means, but we
have many different cultures. We have nurses, we have business people, we
have entrepreneurs, we have tradespeople, we have professions, we have
degree programs, we have technicians and we have
They have different experiences, they have different ideas and they have
different goals for the organization. We have to try and craft that into a
strategic plan for the college, one in which everybody can find a role, can
find comfort, can add value and can move forward and do the good things they
want to do.
To do that, we have to understand that we will have disagreements. We
will have conflicting goals, so one might say we need more degree programs
and others might say we need more preparatory programs.
We have to try to find the balance between that, and we use the two
things, the goal, what is it we are trying to achieve, maintenance of the
aim, if you will, and then the principles that good solutions will advance
careers for learners, they will create that high quality workforce for
employers, they will provide access and equity.
That is a suggestion. Have a good goal that everybody believes in and
agrees is important to reach, and then have some sort of framework of the
principles of what a good solution looks like so that when compromise has to
be made, people can feel comfortable in that compromise.
Good luck, because it is a struggle, I know, in Canada to have us all
agree on things.
Senator Brown: We seem to have the ability in provincial elections
to criticize the federal government, no matter what that government might
be. We do not seem too able to understand that we are all together and we
are all benefiting greatly from energy.
When it comes to a political time when you are fighting for the number of
seats you need in your own province, everybody seems to want to take on
somebody else, it can be a province or it can be a federal government, just
to make sure they get elected.
I cannot seem to understand why we do that. We do it all the time. Even
Alberta MLAs are attacking Alberta MPs when it seems to be their chance to
get re-elected. I can see it coming in the next Alberta election. They will
be trashing the federal government, which is their own government too. I do
not quite understand why we cannot get around that.
Mr. Webb: I cannot resist. I think that short-term thinking often
can drive bad decision making. The quarterly statement for the corporation
and the four-year election for the provincial government, or maybe the
national government, are really constraints that we need to get beyond.
Perhaps having the national energy policy looked at by the Senate as opposed
to the government is maybe something that can help us get beyond that. You
do not have the four-year mandate and you do not have to rise and fall
nearly so much with those short-term cycles. You can look at long-term
I think quite frankly, that is one of the reasons I understand that we
have a Senate. So I commend you to your work, and think that maybe you can
do it where others cannot.
Mr. Hoemsen: I wanted to add that if you can identify a common
need early, that will bring people together faster, especially with a mutual
benefit at the end.
The other thing I have noticed in my experience is sometimes we strive
for perfection, and often good enough is all you need to get started. So
just find something that you can agree on and just get started, because
otherwise, we will be trying to be perfect and it might not be necessary.
Senator Banks: Again, just out of naiveté and curiosity, I think
you said it was A123 that made the after-market application batteries that
you used. You said that that was a Canadian company that now moved to
Mr. Hoemsen: I believe they were in Kingston. They were acquired
and relocated to Minneapolis.
Senator Banks: Was it just an acquisition? I ask because we hear a
lot about the urgent necessity in Canada for R&D and for commercialization
through both colleges and universities, so here is an example of something
that at least started here. Was it simply an offer that they could not
refuse or was there a shortfall in Canada that caused them to move, in your
view, or if you know?
Mr. Hoemsen: I do not know personally. I believe they were a
start-up company, so maybe part of their strategy was to be acquired.
A123 Hymotion is the name of the combined company. I cannot recall if it
was A123 that was here originally or Hymotion, but I am not really sure what
was behind the acquisition.
The Chair: Gentlemen, I think that concludes this segment of our
hearing here in Winnipeg.
I want to not only thank you both for being available but also say how
impressive it appears your curriculum is and the work you are doing at Red
River. I wish you good luck and thank you for your help to our committee. We
will value it as we prepare our report.
Senators, there is a possibility that there could be some television
cameras in the room as we hear from our next witness, so we have a motion
from Senator Banks, seconded by Senator Massicotte. All those in favour?
Thank you very much.
Colleagues, our next witness is from the Manitoba Environmental
Industries Association, Daniel Lepp Friesen. He is a member and coordinator
of 50 by 30 Energy Policy Initiative and the owner of his own business, DLF
You, sir, were in the room throughout this morning's proceedings so you
know who we are and we have all been introduced. In your own case, you will
give us a little of your own background and carry on. I am sure we will have
lots of questions.
Daniel Lepp Friesen, Member and Coordinator of 50 by 30 Energy Policy
Initiative and Owner of DLF Consulting, Manitoba Environmental Industries
Association: I am very honoured to be here. It is the first Senate
hearing that I have been part of.
Welcome to Winnipeg. It is my honour to be here, to have some time with
you and to hear of your interest in this topic.
Your 2005 report on sustainable development states the following:
We have to do more than just stand around wringing our hands over the
lengthening list of very real threats to our environment. We must embark
on a determined path to sustainable development.
Bravo. I was very encouraged to read that, and that is certainly my
sentiment, and I am looking forward to sharing with you a little bit about
50 by 30 and a couple of other things.
Briefly, to begin with, I grew up as a missionary kid in Afghanistan. I
travelled a good chunk of the world. I have lived in the Middle East and
worked in energy and development with the Navaho people in the Southwestern
U.S. as well as in Manitoba.
I started my own consulting business about five years ago and have very
much enjoyed the opportunity to do work for Manitoba Hydro, for the Province
of Manitoba, for the states of Montana and Minnesota as well, and most of it
on the topic of energy and renewable energy specifically.
I am a father of four kids and a husband of one and very much enjoy
living in this lovely cold city that you get to visit.
Just to give you a little background on MEIA, Manitoba Environmental
Industries Association, this organization is 68 industries and businesses
and individuals with a collective commitment to the environment and
developing positive legislative and policy frameworks.
This organization represents some of the heavyweights when it comes to
the environment in Manitoba, and I am very honoured that they asked me to
come here to represent them as a member and also to let you know about their
newest project they have adopted, 50 by 30, this energy policy initiative.
The bottom slide on the first page, 50 by 30's purpose is to increase
Manitoba's renewable energy use to 50 per cent from the present 30 per cent
by 2030 without increasing global GHGs. That in a nutshell captures 50 by 30
and what we are trying to do.
The next couple of slides I will go through rather quickly. These are
global challenges that you are very familiar with, I am sure: Number
1, using more resources than we have; number 2, the sun setting on the age
of fossil fuels. On the bottom of page 2 is the peak oil chart.
I am sure you are familiar with the topic. Basically you see a
mountain-like graph that depicts the fact that the discovery of new oil
reserves is decreasing for the first time since we started extracting oil
from the ground.
On the next page, page 3, there is a little picture of Canada's oil
sands. We spend a lot of energy and time doing that, yet our world uses up
84 million barrels of oil a day and our oil sands are one of those million
barrels. We are a small player when it comes to that, but a player
We have a climate in crisis and an economy in crisis. These are clear
indicators that we need a response that is in- depth and sustainable.
On page 4, the sustainable response we are talking about is 50 by 30. 50
by 30 is a provincial energy initiative, and it has three strategies: Very
simply, reduce demand, increase efficiency and increase the use of renewable
energy. I will go into the specifics of those in a little bit.
Why 50 by 30? Well, we need to grow our economy, our Manitoba green
business sector. We need to reduce our environmental footprint, build our
communities and engage people.
In terms of who is 50 by 30, the industries association is our biggest
contributor, obviously, with the many dozens of businesses and industries
that it represents. All the players at this table to date are part of 50 by
30 as well. Red River College, Assiniboine Community College, University of
Manitoba as well as about 20 or 30 businesses outside of MEIA are part of 50
by 30. We have an email list of over 150 people.
50 by 30 is entirely volunteer-driven. Each one of the committee members
takes turns paying for lunches for everybody. We get ourselves to meetings.
There is no cost at all to date to becoming a member, and I welcome you all
to do that at the website listed there.
What about Manitoba? If I had a nice big colour screen here with the
slides flashing up, you would see this a little clearer. I have a pair of
glasses on as some of you do, but the left corner, bottom slide, page 4, has
a pie chart showing that one-third, basically 30 per cent of our energy is
Now, you have heard a lot of numbers about Manitoba, yes, we are 98 per
cent renewable, et cetera. Well, that is true for electricity. Most of our
energy use here is non-renewable, transportation and heat — petroleum
products and natural gas.
We want to do something about that. We have been at the 30 per cent mark,
25 to 30 per cent, for about three decades, so it is time to move the bar.
If you look to page 5, there are two charts there, and you see a
transition from the bottom left showing the 30 per cent where we are to a 50
per cent. Now, nobody can forecast what happens tomorrow other than the good
Lord, and this is 50 per cent. Of course, we do not know the details, but
this is our best effort to project in 19 years what could it look like. You
can see there that all the pie slices have been adjusted, and we have
rationale in terms of how that happens, but the point is, get a target out
there. Get a target out there that we feel is realistic.
The Chair: The 50 is 50 per cent, the 30 is 2030 and the focus is
Manitoba, not globally, not Canada?
Mr. Friesen: That is exactly correct, so far. We will get to
Canada right away.
The idea of something by something, it is not a new idea. 25 by 25 is a
national initiative in the U.S. Six states have actually legislated it into
law, including Minnesota, for instance.
Sweden has 50 by 50. That is where they want to be. Some countries have
100 by 50, which I will be speaking about later, but if you keep in your
minds the words ``renewable energy ratio,'' that is what we are talking
about, 50 per cent being a renewable energy ratio by 2030.
The strategies again are reducing demand, increasing efficiency and
increasing renewable energy. At the bottom of page 5, I go into each one
just a bit.
Demand reduction, this is where we all sort of need a psychologist,
frankly. It is simply decisions that we all make in our own heads. Am I
going to walk to the bus stop?
I came here this morning using one of my favourite modes of
transportation, the bus. Actually, my most favourite is the bike. I get out
to the bus stop and I wait maybe 45 seconds, a bus is there, and I did not
even check the schedule when I left home. I never even check the schedule
because I know between 7:30 and nine o'clock, buses are coming all the time.
I get to town and in fact I get off the bus four blocks early because I
want to walk a bit. Otherwise it drops me just one block away from where I
need to be, and I need a little more exercise than that.
The Chair: Did you know that 80 per cent of the employees, and
there are many employees, at Manitoba Hydro are now taking the bus, whereas
it was only 28 per cent three years ago?
Mr. Friesen: That is fantastic. That is the kind of example we
need to hear.
If I would drive to work, it would be about a 20-kilometre round trip,
which for me would be about 5,000 kilometres a year, or basically, simply by
the choice to come downtown in other than automobile transportation, I
actually have reduced my petroleum consumption by 50 per cent.
Given the fact that my daughter is getting married in Kansas this year so
I have to drive down there and I have got family in the U.S., there is a lot
of driving we do. We are not going to cut all that out, but instead of 6,000
miles a year, I can go 3,000 miles a year simply by making a daily choice.
The lights in this room, for example, are all of the energy consuming
variety, which is interesting in our province, and maybe we can make a
difference there here at the Delta Hotel.
As you can tell from the little list there, turn off the light, close the
shades, take a bike, walk to work, these are behaviours, and that is demand.
There is the potential of knocking our energy demand by 25 per cent simply
by making smart choices.
The second thing, page 6, is increasing efficiency. This is now where you
get the intersection of technology into our lives, putting insulation in the
We have a good Power Smart program here with Manitoba Hydro, with a lot
of incentives to do that: reducing air infiltration, efficient vehicles,
electric vehicles, virtual travel.
I was in Europe recently, in Denmark and Sweden and then in Morocco after
that, and I noticed that at some of the airports I was walking along and the
escalators were at a standstill. When you are a metre away from it, guess
what? It turns on. Is that not an amazing idea?
Here at the Delta Hotel and pretty much across North America the
escalators are working 24/7 for almost no reason at all, given the fact that
motion sensing technology has been around for literally decades.
Again, the technology intersection for efficiencies is very significant
and can also decrease our energy demand by another 25 per cent.
Renewable energy, there is a collage there of a couple of pictures that
are difficult to see, but basically there are five different elements that I
will talk about. One is biomass, and we have heard about that with the
cattails and a variety of other things. There is wind, solar, geothermal and
hydroelectric. The hydro in our province is around a little over 4,000
megawatts of power and is a significant contributor to our whole renewable
energy ratio being where it is.
In terms of 50 by 30, we are now developing a green plan. The green plan
takes the concept of 50 by 30, the big idea, and says okay, specifically,
how many megawatts of solar heat do we need to have by a certain date and
what is the cost going to be?
I can give you an example in terms of solar heat. I believe Senator Angus
mentioned the warmth at minus 30. My home has solar air heating panels on
it, and on a day like today the furnace stays off the entire day. It reduces
our energy consumption by 50 per cent throughout the winter. That is
significant, and it is not an impossibility. It does not even need to be
researched. It has been around a very long time.
The next slide, bottom of page 6, deals with certain megawatts of solar
electricity, certain megawatts of biomass heat. Specifically in biomass
heat, there is district heating. The downtown of Winnipeg and of almost
every single city in North America was district heated. We have a couple of
smokestacks around town, in the Forks and elsewhere. They burned coal, they
boiled water. The steam went underground to the buildings. Everyone tapped
off the steam they needed. It then condensed and went to the bottom of the
same pipe and went back to the system. Again, it is an old idea. The Romans
were using district heating literally thousands of years ago in the hot
baths that they enjoyed.
District heating is something we can do. In fact, 50 per cent to 60 per
cent of all buildings in Denmark are district- heated using biomass. This is
partly a result of public policy and partly a result of people taking for
granted that that is how it is.
Here if you walk outside in winter without a parka on or a good tuque,
people look at you like you are an idiot, and you probably are. A bunch of
Danish guys came here and looked at the subdivisions here and there across
the city, and they said, ``That one is biomass district-heated, I am sure.''
I said, ``Well, actually, we do not really know what the word means but we
are learning.'' They were flabbergasted, with all the straw close by. They
have a very sophisticated system of a single biomass heater that takes straw
bales from a farmer cooperative — again there is a community development
piece there — and they own the district heating plant. So guess what? They
are more interested than anybody that that plant works 24/7. They bring the
bales in, a crane picks them up, puts them on the belt and it burns the
bales throughout the day. It heats a big tank of water. A pump goes
underground and connects every single home and business in the
Revelstoke, B.C., has a good district heating system. There is one in
Victoria, and there is another large one in Quebec. Across Canada, we have a
couple of them, and in Manitoba as well. I will be speaking about that in a
Next is biomass co-generation, co-generation being heat and power. If you
put gasoline or natural gas or anything into an engine and you want to make
electricity out of it, you will only use one third of the power available in
that gasoline. The rest of it is spent in heat. This says, well, instead of
just making electricity, let us use the heat coming off it as well. Wind,
geothermal, hydro, biofuels — the point is looking at all of the resources
we have and saying that by a certain date, let us put a target down, let us
understand the cost and let us go there.
The next page shows some examples, hydro of course on the top, biomass
examples. The picture there is actually a district heating system that was
kicked off this winter for the first time in a small college that was not
represented here called Providence University College south of Winnipeg.
They are using wood pellets from by-products from the furniture industry.
They have the wood pellets going there; they use a couple hundred tonnes a
year, and now it heats the majority of their campus. Their campus is now 75
per cent renewable in addition to some geothermal. This is not space-age
If you look at the picture there on the left, you might wonder where in
the world is a solar panel there. They are actually the vertical brown
strips. The building here on the right, if you want to take a look at it, is
at York and St. Mary, about three blocks away from here. I would love to
take you there over your noon break, if you like.
Page 8 shows Manitoba examples with wind. We have a couple hundred
megawatts of wind. Geothermal, of course, the hydro building is depicted
there, and I will take a moment here just to say that Manitoba has adopted
some very good policies when it comes to geothermal heating and it is
because of those policies that the geothermal business is growing quite a
bit in the province.
As I said before, there is a renewable energy ratio. In Manitoba, we are
at 30 per cent due to our hydro, geothermal and biomass. Our target is 50
Canada is at 17 per cent, as a country. What could our national target
be? Could it be 50 by 30? That is a question. We had the Kyoto targets; they
came and went. I think it is very important that we set provincial and
national targets not based on external obligations, not based on short-term
economic or political benefits. It is very critical that we take a look at
On page 9, Canada's renewable energy ratio is a bit difficult to see, but
you can see a spindly little green line there on the left and basically
petering out at about 16 per cent. There are a couple of mentions there
about greenhouse gases and renewable energy ratios, and I will be covering
that in the bottom slide on page 9. Next is RER, or renewable energy ratios,
versus GHGs. This is not highly technical, but I come from an engineering
and business background, so I try to combine the two when I can.
The renewable energy ratio again for Manitoba, for instance, is how much
energy we are using as a total, and then of that, what percentage is
renewably generated. That is one picture. The other way is how many GHGs am
I spewing out a year and how many tonnes of that can I reduce by a certain
time. You may ask why differentiate between the two. Are not they the same?
I wish they were. To some extent they are, but I will give you an example.
Greenhouse gas reduction, carbon capture in our country actually uses
fossil fuels to try to solve a fossil fuel problem. It is using fossil fuels
to pump the CO2 underground, and hopefully, and no one quite
knows whether or not it is going to stay there, but that is the idea.
I have an electric generation plant using a fossil fuel. I have got
emissions coming off it. Now I capture those emissions and I stuff them in
the ground. Basically what we are doing is we are increasing the amount of
fossil fuels we use, and what are we getting out of it? Well, the point is
that we are reducing our GHGs. However, does reducing our GHGs help in our
long-term national sustainability? I would argue absolutely not.
If we look at our country from a renewable energy ratio perspective, then
every single decision should go through, and if you flip the page, page 10,
top slide, there are six criteria. Number one, does it reduce energy use?
Number two, does it increase energy efficiency? Number three, does it
increase renewable energy? Number four, does it increase business activity
and create jobs? Number five, does it preserve and protect the environment?
Number six, does it enhance and improve quality of life?
If this was our grid through which we looked at all of our energy
decisions across the country, I am confident that we would come to a more
sustainable pathway versus a GHG argument that basically is playing with
Oh, this is great; this is a big business opportunity. I can use fossil
fuels to solve a fossil fuel problem, and in the end, we use more fossil
fuels. In essence, we are using taxpayer dollars to reduce our renewable
energy ratio. I think it is a problem.
The Chair: It seems very simply what you are saying is that the
emphasis has been on the wrong syllable here. We have been emphasizing
reduction of GHGs, and that does not get the job done. It is to reduce
consumption of energy along those six lines. Right?
Mr. Friesen: Yes, precisely. It is sort of like if I wanted to get
to work in the morning, I can say, well, the criterion is speed. It is all
about getting there as fast as possible. Therefore, I am justified in using
a sports car and hitting a bunch of people on the way.
What is another criterion? Is it efficiency? Is it community? On the bus,
I can talk to people on the way. There are different criteria.
The GHG logic has led to some funny conclusions, and I think that in the
end, if we are not increasing the renewable energy ratio, then all we are
doing is playing games with numbers. I do not think that is going to lead us
to a sustainable place.
The third recommendation here is creating a national 50 by 30 agency or
something like that, 40 by 60, you choose the numbers, but something that
sets out a target for our country, establishes a framework for this
initiative, develops consistent national sustainability indicators and
monitors and assesses achievement of goals.
Someone mentioned earlier the idea of a standard for a building code and
it is up to the provinces to kind of do their thing. I think in Canada we
struggle with the idea of being a nation. We are a federation with lots of
I am quite familiar with CCME, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the
Environment. They have come up with lots of good things, but if I am
Newfoundland or Quebec or whatever province, I look at those standards and
say, you know, that is tough. We will do it in a couple of years, we will
get to it, but really, I do not have to. CEPA does not have that kind of
authority over other than toxic substances, and there is a very limited
national muscle in our federal government when it comes to environmental
50 by 30 I think will have to follow along the same sort of consensus
model. Let each province figure out its own targets and then get to them.
Fourth is to be so bold as to suggest that we should adjust our federal
energy priorities. In recent years, Canada's federal and provincial
governments have committed a total of $3 billion in funding for carbon
capture storage. In contrast, in one year, Canada committed $145 million to
renewable energy technologies. It is not even a 1 to 10 ratio there.
What is the driver of this kind of spending? The Government of Canada has
committed that Canada's total GHG emissions be reduced by 17 per cent from
2005 levels by 2020.
The suggestion of 50 by 30 and MEIA is change the driver to
sustainability and renewability. Redirect funds from carbon capture into
renewables. Focus on communities and First Nations to build long-term
The Chair: Going back to the almost blank slide on page 9, I
thought I heard you say you were going to come back to that. You have
Mr. Friesen: When you use a PowerPoint, that pops up first and
then it gets substituted. Yes, those four that I mentioned, those are the
The Chair: Did I hear you say at the outset that you were brought
up on a mission in Afghanistan?
Mr. Friesen: That is correct.
The Chair: Could you just elaborate a little on that?
Mr. Friesen: I would love to. My father passed away in 2005. He
was an ophthalmologist, an eye surgeon. He decided that his career was best
spent in places where they did not have an ophthalmologist to start with.
In 1969, we moved there and I stayed there until 1979. My parents were in
that part of the world for another 20 years. I am very proud of their
The Chair: Were they in Kabul?
Mr. Friesen: In Kabul, that is correct. Actually, my brother is
there now. He works there.
The Chair: You say a mission. Was it a religious group is or was
it a professional group? What was its aegis?
Mr. Friesen: The organization that my parents were with was the
Mennonite church, although to be in Afghanistan, you could not be a
missionary, so being a doctor, they started a hospital there and also
started an eye institute that trained local doctors, so that when he left,
the doctor did not leave with him.
The Chair: We salute you and your family. That is a marvelous
Senator Mitchell: Did you chase kites as a kid there?
Mr. Friesen: Actually, we did. We flew kites, we chased kites. We
watched buzkashi. I do not know if you have heard of their national
sport. It is a fascinating thing. Yes, it is an amazing country.
Senator Mitchell: I am very inspired by your work on this project,
the 50 by 30.
Do you have solar air heating panels?
Mr. Friesen: That is correct.
Senator Mitchell: I thought generally there was photovoltaic and
heating water, but you actually heat air?
Mr. Friesen: Yes, thermally speaking, you can heat anything. The
electric generation is on one side and the other side is heating.
The panels actually circulate air from the house through the panel and
back into the house, just like a furnace, just when the sun is available and
warm enough and I want it. When I do not want it to heat the house, then it
redirects it to a water heating loop which then heats the hot water of the
Senator Mitchell: Who put that in for you?
Mr. Friesen: I did.
Senator Mitchell: You designed it and built it and put it in
Mr. Friesen: Actually, the panels I purchased from Michigan. I
worked for 10 years for a solar contractor and put everything on roofs that
I could think of. Wherever we have gone, we have put something like this up.
Senator Mitchell: Does it pay? Are you subsidizing it yourself or
would it be cheaper just to use what the province can provide you?
Mr. Friesen: It would be cheaper. I have got about a 10-year
payback on the system, which to me is very doable.
I have not calculated the payback on my new couch or computer yet, but
all I am saying is we use that economic language interestingly with things
that we really like. Frankly, it is a hobby, my passion, my interest, my
job. I am lucky.
Senator Mitchell: I absolutely agree. We are quite happy to pay
for things that depreciate to nothing and have no value at all, and yet we
are not happy to pay for something that might actually enhance our quality
of life and save our kids.
Clearly in Manitoba, transportation is a big chunk of greenhouse gas. You
have probably covered this, but could you focus a bit more on alternative
fuels? It is not just driving less that you are talking about in your 50 by
Mr. Friesen: That is correct. There was a study done by
Earthfuture.com that looked at 9 million barrels of oil a day in private
transportation. That is the rough number. Out of the 80 some million, this
is about 10 per cent of it basically.
They pointed to about seven different ways to take that 9 million barrels
of oil a day and reduce it to less than one.
Has anyone here been to Holland, Netherlands? Did you bump into any
bicycles while you were there?
Senator Mitchell: Yes, but they do not wear helmets.
Mr. Friesen: Yes, my kids want to live there. Basically, what I
read the other day is that 60 per cent of small errand commutes are done by
bike in Holland. They have a lot of rain, by the way, a lot more rain than
we have in Manitoba. They do not have the ice and snow, but part of it is a
decision. It is a choice that has been made. I am going to get into that.
The first thing that can be done is bicycling and walking simply taking
up a big chunk. There is electric —
The Chair: And skating too.
Mr. Friesen: There are people who skate to work on the Assiniboine
Electric bicycles are very common. That could take off around 10 per
cent. We have electric buses and LRTs. We heard about the electric bus
development here. Ride sharing, again, is something so simple that it is
silly. There are electric vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles, car share.
We now have our first car share program in Manitoba. There are about
three vehicles that are available to anybody who wants to use them.
If you have been to Dockside Green in Victoria, they have half a dozen or
more vehicles there that are simply sign- outs. I think they are all
hybrids, if I recall correctly. That little community is pushing very hard
to move its renewable energy ratio.
Transportation is a big deal. Between those things and virtual travel,
biofuels, et cetera, this organization claims that although oil is
important, we could reduce it by about 95 per cent from what we are right
now. I agree with that. I think it can be done.
When gasoline hit $1.50 a litre in Manitoba, I think it was about a year
and a half or two ago when we saw that big spike, you could not get on the
bus. It was amazing. Whole full buses would just go by, they would not even
slow down. Everybody is waiting, you know, what is the deal? Right like
that, ridership went up.
Is it the role of our society to say okay, let us push the price up while
making sure that we are taking care of the poor? Never leave the poor
behind. If there is a way through employers or otherwise to say this person
really needs to drive and they are under a certain income threshold, maybe
we can figure those things out.
Senator Mitchell: Why is it that if you go to Europe, every hotel
you walk into you have to put your card in a slot in the wall and without
it, power does not come on in your room, and no hotel in Canada that I have
ever been in has ever had that? Is that simply because it is just not worth
the cost or is it simply because the paradigm of thought just does not get
Mr. Friesen: That is a very good question. Fossil fuel as far as I
understand comes to a country at a very similar price. Natural gas follows a
very similar rule. It is a commodity basis.
Electricity is different. We do not ship electricity across the Atlantic
yet, but that price can be a lot or less, depending on the policy of a
If gasoline and natural gas come to countries at similar prices and they
are sold at very different prices, then we have to conclude that Europe got
where it is not because of economic pressure, because they have the same
pressure we do. The electricity might be a bit more but that is not my
biggest bill anyway. That is not my biggest energy use. It is the heating of
my house in a cold winter.
Maybe the best energy conservation for us all is to move to Florida.
Maybe that would solve a lot of things.
The fact is that they made policy decisions 30 and 40 and 50 years ago
that have dramatically reduced their consumption by intent. It is a matter
of vision and guts, and after a while, the public is kind of saying, oh,
In Winnipeg, our biking paths are superb. Just this past year or two
there has been a huge increase in bike paths. As an avid user of them, I
write the mayor and my councilperson every time I can saying this is great,
it really works.
At the stop lights, for the first time this summer, there were bicycle
lines, four and five and six bikes waiting for the light to change. This is
great. It can be done.
I think what I am getting at is a public adjusting to new realities. You
cannot buy a Hummer any more. It is all smaller cars.
Everybody knows about compact fluorescent light bulbs. People get used to
them and can move along.
I am quite sure it can happen in the same way in terms of hotel rooms. It
is a decision. It is a huge opportunity for a hotel chain, who knows, Delta,
to say we are the green leader. Your room will not be cold but the lights
will not turn on unless you put your key in. That is a good point.
Senator Mitchell: You can actually ride your bike in the winter
Mr. Friesen: Actually, I do.
Senator Mitchell: I have done it quite a bit.
Mr. Friesen: I quit riding after my tire cracked because it was
too cold. I have not replaced my studded tires yet.
Senator Mitchell: I do it without studded tires.
Senator Neufeld: I always want to keep in mind that every country
or even every province has different issues that they have to overcome. In
one of your slides, you say if everybody in the world wanted to live like a
Canadian, we would need two more Earths. There is a bit of a difference
between living in a small country like Denmark where you do not go very far
to work and living in a country as large Canada where some people travel
over 100 miles a day to work.
Is it always justified? No, I suppose not, but it happens. I always look
at it through that viewpoint.
You say reduce energy demand behaviour. Let us drill a little deeper into
that. Tell me, how do you actually do that?
If you want to use Europe as an example, their electricity prices are
probably five or six times higher. That is one reason. Their gasoline is
twice as much or three times as much as ours.
Is that how you reduce behaviour? Or do you have a different viewpoint on
how you reduce energy behaviour?
Mr. Friesen: Reduce energy use, yes. Well, part of it is people's
Senator Neufeld: You call it behaviour — reduce energy demand
behaviour — so that is why I am saying that.
Mr. Friesen: I think the European example again, the reduction of
use of fossil fuels is in large part due to cost, and that cost is not due
to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or any supplier of the oil. It is due to the
government saying we want to make this change and we are going to make it.
We have not made that choice. Part of it is I think higher fees on energy
in Canada. Like I said about the bus ridership, it just shot through the
roof and then went back down when gasoline went back down.
Part of it is awareness and modeling. If for instance our Parliament and
Senate and legislatures in each province came up with their own plan to say
that every legislator will get to work using a renewable energy form or bus
over the next year and made a big splash about that, it would make a
difference. People would say, oh, you mean guys with suits and ties can ride
a bike too? Yes, it can be done. Modeling is a big part of it.
It is not just slapping taxes on things. That helps I think to reduce the
use. Again we have to be careful about people with lower incomes who have to
In terms of some of those long commutes and electric vehicles, which was
spoken about earlier, one thing they did not mention was the battery
swap-out schemes, where people drive 100 kilometres, 200 kilometres, to the
range of their vehicle, and just like we have fuel stations all across the
country, we can have battery swap-out stations all across the country. That
is not unreasonable to think of.
Senator Neufeld: Have you ever put a cost to what you just spoke
of? You say it is not unreasonable. You must have costed it somehow.
Mr. Friesen: That is true. If we look at the subsidies that the
oil industry gets, and it is in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year
that governments subsidize oil, including the Canadian government, and by
that I am talking about what we call our National Defence policy that
provides for the kind of situation where oil companies can do their work,
that is an oil expense. The war in Iraq is an oil expense.
It is not entirely that, but basically, I think our economies are
subsidizing the price of oil, and if we would take some of that subsidy and
say let us look at alternatives, yes, I think it can be done.
Senator Neufeld: We talk about behaviour in areas where
electricity is cheap. I am from B.C. so our situation is much the same as
Manitoba's. When I look above me, I see nothing but incandescent lights and
no CLFs. You talked about that before. Sometimes there is leadership needed
from the top, so I appreciate what you are saying.
I just wanted to touch on X number of megawatts of solar electricity by
such and such a time on page 6. It was presented to us that in Ontario, they
had a solar farm for generating electricity. I believe it was 24 megawatts
and it covered 250 acres of land that could be used for nothing else.
Is that the type of solar you are talking about? You talked a bit about
using it on homes, and I agree with using it on homes, with the technology
we have today, for heating water and those kinds of things. Those are
practical things that we can all do individually. Or are you talking about
large solar farms?
Mr. Friesen: In Manitoba, it was probably not the smartest thing
to do to put the solar electric on the top there, because I see the role of
photovoltaics in Manitoba being limited to remote applications, and
interestingly enough, remote applications can be in downtown Winnipeg.
All of our parking meters are solar powered because the cost of getting
power three metres from the light pole to that spot is outrageous and easily
paid back by a battery and solar system. We have to be careful when we use
the word ``remote,'' but there are smart applications of PV, whether in
cabins or remote northern communities.
Traffic signs throughout Canada and the U.S. are now all PV-powered. Back
in the day, not even that long ago, they were all diesel-powered with a
diesel generator thumping 24/7.
In terms of your question specifically, I would say solar electric in
Manitoba would play a very small role.
Senator Neufeld: You talked on page 10 about the $3 billion spent
for CCS — and I do not dispute that — between the Province of Alberta, some
in B.C. and the federal government, and I believe some in Saskatchewan.
There is a reason for that, I guess. The reason is that those jurisdictions
do not have the rivers like Manitoba does or Quebec does or British Columbia
does to generate electricity. You cannot generate it all with wind power or
solar. We know that. They are stuck in a place where they have to generate
electricity for their people. I can understand that.
You go further and you say in contrast, Canada committed $145 million.
The first time you used both federal and provincial. The second time you
used just Canada. I dispute that number.
I know Canada commits one cent a kilowatt hour for every clean source of
energy developed in the last number of years, that is wind, run-of-the-river
power, you name it. They get a one-cent subsidy. In the province I come
from, if you build a wind farm or a run-of-the-river project, you are not
going to pay any property taxes for 10 years. You are not going to pay any
provincial sales taxes, those kinds of things. I think the numbers and the
comparisons should be more reflective of what is happening and the reasons
why. There is a reason why.
I do not know where Alberta goes to get all of their electricity. They
have some large rivers in the north but not in the south. They have some
Me, I do not think we should pick on them. They have some other options,
but basically, they do not. They need to actually look at that. There is a
reason for it. Would you agree with me to a degree on that?
Mr. Friesen: I agree that they need to generate electricity and I
agree that they do not have a lot of rivers to tap into, absolutely.
This really has nothing to do with electric generation. This has to do
with the carbon capture storage after you have generated the electricity, so
they are two very different things.
Senator Neufeld: No, they are one and the same, actually, because
generating electricity causes the GHG, and you have to get rid of the GHG to
meet your targets. So they are one and the same thing, not two separate
Mr. Friesen: Okay. To meet the target, if that money instead was
making the coal plants co-generation plants, then they would be utilizing 85
to 90 per cent of the coal instead of 30 per cent. Right now, they are just
using 30 per cent of the coal to generate electricity and the rest of it is
dumped, literally dumped.
First of all, we are wasting 70 per cent of the coal, number 1. Number 2,
now we are using natural gas or something, diesel, to take those gases and
force them underground. Now we add insult to injury in a way by adding
another fossil fuel burden on top of the fact that we are wasting it anyway.
For instance, instead of focusing on a GHG output, we should simply say
let us use 90 per cent of the fuel by converting the heat from that coal
plant and making it available to industry and to towns through district
heating systems, not that it is easy and not that it is cheap, but it can be
done and it is being done.
Senator Neufeld: Sometimes theory and reality have two totally
different outcomes. I do not want to argue any longer. I understand what you
I believe it is the Keephills plant that is using the latest technology.
I might have the plant name wrong, but they are using the latest technology
there is in burning coal to generate electricity because they are moving
that way and have been moving that way. They are not just using something
that was 50 or 100 years old.
They are investing in technology and moving forward in how you can do it
but remembering there is an economic side to it also. I leave it with that
Mr. Friesen: Okay.
Senator Banks: Thank you for a very interesting presentation and
for telling us about your interesting life to this stage.
Some of us have been to Afghanistan so we have a vague idea, a peripheral
idea, about what you experienced there.
I want to ask you about one of the plants that Senator Neufeld referred
to, because the practicality that Senator Neufeld referred to as opposed to
the theory is a problem.
One of the coal generating plants in Alberta that is sort of at the front
end of efficiency in terms of the use of coal — that is almost an oxymoron —
it is closer to being as efficient as gas than a normal, if I can use that
word, traditional coal plant, substantially so, and at a huge cost. That
particular plant is burning coal that is owned, by the way, by the same
company that owns the plant, so the fuel cost is virtually zero except for
the actual mechanical cost of extraction.
How far can you transmit heat that would be co-generated by that plant?
It is 60 miles from any concentrated industry or population. I do not think
you can move heat 60 miles without an assertion loss that would make it
tepid at best when it came out the other end. Am I right? Is there not a
Mr. Friesen: There certainly is a distance factor. How many of you
have a geothermal heating system in your home that you use or are aware of?
Senator Banks: None. That same report that you talked about from
2005 points out our general national stupidity in that respect.
Mr. Friesen: All right. Has anyone checked the temperature of the
water coming out of the earth into those systems?
Senator Banks: Coming out of the earth?
Mr. Friesen: The earth, to heat, for instance, Manitoba Hydro's
building as we speak. It is less than tepid. It is maybe 10 degrees. How do
we heat such a big building with such little heat? The same question is, if
the tail end of that heat pipeline from the coal plant comes in at 40 or 30
degrees, it is 300 per cent warmer than the groundwater, which we are
already extracting usable heat from through heat extraction technology that
is very common and has been used in air conditioning systems for
generations. Yes, distance is an issue. Is it usable heat? Absolutely, with
underground, well-insulated pipes and heat extraction technology on the
other end, yes.
Senator Banks: Is there a limit? Is there a distance beyond which
you just cannot do it?
Mr. Friesen: I am sure there is. It all depends on economic
factors. For instance, if we take natural gas, which is at a 15-year low
right now in terms of price, and look at what is the life cycle cost of that
natural gas in terms of its extraction, in terms of its emissions, in terms
of the fact that there just will not be any more when we are actually done
with it and factor all those things together, our 15- to 20-cent gas may
quickly turn into 65-cent gas simply to be a fair judge of the cost, the
full cost accounting of that natural gas, and we do not have a clue about
full cost accounting for energy in Canada.
Senator Massicotte: How do you get to the market price? Why is
your price three times higher than the market price?
Mr. Friesen: The market does not demand that the externality be
Senator Massicotte: I am just trying to get to the real answer. I
appreciate there are externalities, but the information I got is that it
does not amount to a 300 per cent increase in the cost of natural gas.
Maybe further to Senator Banks, warm air that comes out I know is really
significant. It is all very nice to say that we should use it, but if it
travels 60 kilometres, 60 miles, I can appreciate you see it in Europe, you
can insulate the pipes, but what is the cost of all that?
What would be the equivalent cost of that warm air 60 miles further when
you have to amortize the pipes and so on? Do you have any idea what that
Mr. Friesen: That is a good question, and I would have to say I do
not have the answer. I think it is helpful to drill into this idea of the
coal plant and the heat question.
I am not an expert in that. It is something that I can find the answers
on. I would be glad to follow up with the committee on the topic.
The point is the concept of a 50 by 30 for Canada, nationally speaking,
includes answers to questions like that that have to be good answers, and
lots and lots of other pieces where the economics are there, and they are
Senator Massicotte: If the economics were there, do you not think
they would have done it?
Mr. Friesen: At present, yes, but because we do not have a
long-term vision when it comes to energy and recognizing the limitations of
fossil fuels, then we do not have funds that can push renewables the
distance that they need to be pushed.
Senator Banks: Let me argue with you about a couple of points, Mr.
The first is peak oil. I wish that I had brought it, but I have a list of
alarms that have been rung beginning in about 1925, and every 10 years or
so, that say we are running out of oil. It is a finite resource.
Some of us were not even alive when there was the huge U.S. oil scare
when everybody said we are going to run out of oil by the end of the last
century. It has never happened.
We have used more oil than was known in terms of proven resources in 1950
since then. If any of the predictions had been right, we would have run out
of oil a long time ago, and all predictions are wrong. I know that you know
Mr. Friesen: Yes, we do not know what tomorrow is.
Senator Banks: Convince me that the peak oil chart there is real.
Given that there is enough oil — it is not economically extractable yet — on
the eastern slope of the Rockies in Colorado, once they figure out how to
get it out of there or the price rises to the point that it makes it
possible, to last the United States 200 years just from that place alone,
convince me that the peak oil predictions are right.
Mr. Friesen: Given that my geological physics are pretty poor,
that is not my area, I cannot comment specifically on the different deposits
and why it appears that way. That curve is actually a compilation of about
30 curves from 30 different oil producing countries. It is not U.S. oil and
it is not Canadian oil; it is a global composite graph.
First of all, it shows a tapering off of a number of things. I think what
we would probably agree on is that the easy, cheap oil is gone, the stuff
that you just catch as it flows out of the ground versus what you have to
work a bit harder at.
Senator Banks: It is gone in terms of what we know is there, but
every couple of weeks, there is more.
I can show you a graph like that from 1950 that shows irrefutably that
that is it, there is no more, we are running out now. However, it is not
Mr. Friesen: If it were simply a question of oil production and
the fact that we can get more creative about getting more oil from more
places and that was the only question, then I would agree there is probably
a lot of oil that we have no clue where it is. Who knows, we might tap into
someplace and get a gusher to last the next 300 years. It seems unlikely,
but I am not the geological guy.
If that were the only consideration, it would be one thing. However, the
fact is that we know that our climate is in crisis and we know that the
climate is in crisis due to our burning of fossil fuels and our use of
energy that is not sustainable.
If it were just a question of is it there, is it not, that would be one
thing. In a way, it is relevant, but in a way, it is irrelevant.
The fact is that climate change, which is another discussion in and of
itself, is something that I believe is happening and I think the numbers
prove that, and we know that a one- or two-degree change on Planet Earth has
catastrophic consequences. Therefore, to continue without addressing this
and without curbing our use of fossil fuels I think is foolish.
Senator Banks: You have led directly into my second question,
because this whole thing is based on a premise that the climate is in
crisis, because if it were not, who would care about anything.
Mr. Friesen: That is correct. Who would care about anything?
Senator Banks: A global warming of two degrees — I think most
Winnipeggers would be perfectly happy to have a global warming of two
degrees if that global warming happened to be happening around Winnipeg. In
Edmonton, I would love to have an increase of two degrees in the
temperature, and it would make arable land that is not now arable. So global
warming is a double-edged sword, is it not?
Mr. Friesen: If we only look at our own navel, yes. If we look at
the fact that the majority of the world's poor live in coastal areas where a
one- or two-degree temperature change means the rising of the water four and
five and six metres, no, it is horrible. It is the worst thing that could
Senator Banks: Would they not move? People move.
Mr. Friesen: If you want to move two billion people, I do not
think it is feasible. I think it will happen; it will be an awful thing. You
look at Bangkok, you look at Thailand, people moved out of there. We have
had people move in Manitoba from places that they probably will not go back
Do I want that? Do I think it is the wise and responsible and kind thing
to say, well, whatever, you guys all move because I like a couple of degrees
of warming? I do not follow that.
Senator Brown: I like what you are saying about cities and
bicycles and water heat. We got district energy in Calgary just a couple of
days ago and they are producing enough for thermal pipes that are heating
all of municipal government, and they are doing it quite well. They took
over eight boilers that were not useful.
There are areas that it is great to be able to reduce, but 70 per cent of
all the energy in North America right now is used by transportation. I do
not mean cars. I mean humongous trucks that are running 2,000 miles, 3,000
miles, 4,000 miles. Imposing greater fees as the solution to making people
reduce transportation is not going to work because we have a lot of small
towns in just about every province in this country. In fact, I am sure there
are small towns in which people are not able to use bicycles to get supplies
The only way farmers survive is to get bigger. They get bigger farms and
they get bigger machinery to work them with. Bigger machinery requires
bigger engines, and more concentrated power requires more fuel.
I think some of the things that are coming out are going to work fairly
well. They are starting to use LNG and this kind of thing.
I do not think we should be in a panic about what is going on. We are
doing some pretty good things in the cities. They have bike paths and they
have got more bicycles, and more people are using C-trains or buses now.
I think that the economy is doing this itself. I use myself as an
example. I live 25 miles out of town, and I have a 250- yard driveway. In
fact, this last week, it has got about a foot of snow on it. The wind is
blowing, so every time I drive through it, it gets deeper because it fills
in the ruts.
I bought a vehicle identical to the one I had before, but they have
engineered a six-speed transmission rather than changed the engine. It has
cut almost 50 per cent from not changing the size of the engine or the power
and from not using the car's gears when it does not need them. Instead of
having 3,000 rpm, you are down at 1,400 rpm, and it runs that way until you
There are solutions. It is coming all the time and the economy is
responding to it. I do not have the feeling that this is something that will
happen in the next year or two. That is possible, I guess. We heard a guy
tell us he is going to have laser fusion within two years, so if that
happens, we do not have any worries about energy.
We can use the things that the economy is finding useful without forcing
regulations is what I am trying to say. The automobile companies are
responding. The truck companies are responding. Do you agree with that?
Mr. Friesen: The one reason that 50 by 30 exists is that it is an
industry initiative. I think the first response is that industry is
interested in this. There is money to be made.
We are spending over $3 billion a year for heating and petroleum
products, not for electricity, and therefore, to keep some of that money in
the province makes sense and can multiply and help our economy. Definitely
the dollar green angle is there.
You asked what about fuel for transporting big trucks from here to B.C.
and down to Texas, all around the country. Albert Einstein said imagination
is more important than knowledge because knowledge contains what we know now
and what we did know versus imagination is what can be.
If you would have talked to the horse and buggy guys not too long ago,
what about this smelly, clunky thing that makes a lot of noise? Oh, that
will come and go. Now we cannot imagine the horse and buggy.
To look at an old idea, trains, we are reducing with the use of trains.
Airships are a growing idea. What about this for an idea, a transcontinental
cargo tube that would be located maybe underground, maybe above ground, that
would ship freight at 300 miles an hour and be entirely pilot free, be all
run with computers. You have stops along the way and then this little
container pops out of the tube and then it zips across and it is across the
country in a couple of hours.
Those kinds of ideas, we do not know where they are going to come from,
but they will come, and they will be in part based on regulation and policy
and in part based on the fact that the market will need it and pay for it.
It is a combination.
Senator Brown: I cannot disagree with you on that. It can come at
whatever cost it would come at, but right now, if we have the equipment that
we are using and we managed to have it use less fuel —
Mr. Friesen: That is the best thing, you are right.
Senator Brown: Better off than waiting for a tube to come
intercontinentally to deliver all our groceries.
Senator Banks: I am going to go back and read that 2005 report
from which Mr. Friesen quoted at the beginning, and maybe we all should,
because there is some good stuff, now that I recall, in that report. It is
our report. I am going to read it again.
The Chair: That was a fascinating presentation. It is a wonderful
background you have, and you are doing great work.
We really appreciate your input to our committee. It is very thoughtful
(The committee adjourned.)