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Memorandum of Understanding: Alberta – Canada Collaboratory on Clean Energy Research and Technology

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is made and effective as of the 13th day of February, 2017
The Government of Canada
The Government of Alberta

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding, dated February 16, 2012, for an Alberta – Canada Collaboratory in Cleaner Oil Sands Development with the purpose of establishing a strategic framework for collaboration on research and innovation promoting responsible and sustainable development of oil sands and heavy oil; and

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada wish to continue the collaboration with an expanded scope to include clean energy technologies and have renamed this Memorandum of Understanding to reflect the broader focus; and

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada have commitments to take action on climate change to protect the health of Canadians , the environment and the economy, including investments in clean technology; and

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada wish to continue to invest in research and innovation to enable more sustainable and higher value development of Alberta’s oil sands; and

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada have a long history of working together on research collaborations and have made strategic investments in research infrastructure (including buildings, facilities, equipment, and people) such as in the priority area of cleaner oil sands’ development, and building on this collaboration will enhance the desired outcomes related to broader clean energy research and technology developments; and

Whereas the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada recognize the potential for engagement with Indigenous Peoples in the transition to a low-carbon economy and to address environmental concerns.


The Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada wish to enter into this MOU in order to collaborate on clean energy research and technology that will:

  • Focus the relevant components of the research and innovation system on the challenges of responsible and sustainable development of clean energy and energy innovation;
  • Bring together the best expertise within the research and innovation system, including, but not limited to Natural Resources Canada, CanmetENERGY (Devon, Ottawa, Varennes) and Alberta Innovates;
  • Enable other organizations in the research and innovation system to participate, such as post-secondary institutions, industry labs, innovative capacity of other government departments and consortia that relate to the objectives of this MOU;
  • Draw on expertise and enabling technology platforms resident in other research and innovation system organizations;
  • Maintain the world-renowned status of Alberta’s and Canada’s energy research and innovation capacity; and
  • Work collaboratively with industry to achieve the outcomes that the Governments of Alberta and Canada desire for responsible sustainable oil sands development.


  • 1.1 “AI” means Alberta Innovates;
  • 1.2 “Collaboratory” means the Alberta – Canada Collaboratory on Clean Energy Research and Technology, which is a collaboration between the Government of Alberta and Canada dedicated to undertake collaborative activities on clean energy research and technology;
  • 1.3 “EDT” means the Alberta Department of Economic Development and Trade;
  • 1.4 “ERA” means Emissions Reduction Alberta;
  • 1.5 “MOU” means this Memorandum of Understanding;
  • 1.6 “NRCan” means Natural Resources Canada;
  • 1.7 “Participants” means the Government of Canada as represented by Natural Resources Canada and the Government of Alberta as represented by the Department of Economic Development and Trade and “Participant” means either one of them;
  • 1.8 “R&D” means Research and Development;
  • 1.9 “RD&D” means Research, Development, and Deployment;
  • 1.10 “SDTC” means Sustainable Development Technology Canada;
  • 1.11 “Secretariat” means the working group responsible for supporting the planning, coordination, and reporting on the activities of the MOU;
  • 1.12 “WD” Western Economic Development


  • 2.1 The Government of Canada has given NRCan, the federal lead on clean technology for natural sectors, including supporting RD&D for clean energy technologies, investing in demonstration projects in the oil and gas sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing clean technology.
  • 2.2 The Government of Canada supports the Canadian Energy Strategy collaboration of provinces and territories charting a path for the sustainable development of Canada’s energy future through sustainability and conservation, technology and innovation, and delivering energy to people;  and
  • 2.3 The Government of Canada has made commitments in North American Clean Energy and Environmental Agreements for advancing clean and secure energy, driving down-short lived climate pollutants, promoting clean and efficient transportation, protecting nature and advancing science, and showing global leadership in addressing climate change.


  • 3.1 The Government of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan provides a plan to take actions on climate change leading to a healthier environment for Albertans by reducing harmful emissions and creating more sustainable economy. A number of initiatives are being developed to support diversification and job creation by reinvesting a significant amount raised by this plan back in to the province’s economy.
  • 3.2 The Government of Alberta supports the development of a Cleantech Sector that can significantly contribute to Alberta’s economic diversification plan. Efforts should be made to use research and innovation investments to leverage the province’s strengths and accelerate research and innovation advances to meet the needs of Albertans.


  • 4.1 This MOU sets the strategic framework between the Governments of Alberta and Canada for collaboration on more sustainable oil sands development and on clean energy technology and research addressing climate change and pollution for a clean growth economy.


The objectives of this MOU are to:

  • 5.1 Enable strategic planning and funding discussion for the clean energy agenda between the Governments of Alberta and Canada;
  • 5.2 Align Collaboratory efforts with Alberta and Canada’s energy strategies, innovation, and R&D to support energy and climate change policies and priorities;
  • 5.3 Broaden the research focus to support clean technology while maintaining the impetus in focus areas related to more sustainable oil sands development, with new strategic areas added in the future, as mutually agreed to by Participants;
  • 5.4 Ensure the full research and technology development capacity of Alberta and CanmetENERGY laboratories is harnessed; and
  • 5.5 Strengthen the ability to collaborate (while identifying research gaps) on transformative research, scale up and demonstration projects in targeted areas.


  • 6.1 The Governments of Alberta and Canada will establish a joint Steering Committee to provide overall strategic guidance and to monitor progress of this MOU on achieving the desired objectives.
  • 6.2 The Steering Committee will consist of senior-level representation selected by NRCan and EDT.
  • 6.3 NRCan and EDT are encouraged to include Steering Committee members from key federal and provincial organizations, such as SDTC and AI.
  • 6.4 The Steering Committee will be co-chaired by NRCan and EDT at the Assistant Deputy Minister level.
  • 6.5 The Steering Committee will meet within six (6) months of the effective date of this MOU, and will meet no less than semi-annually thereafter.
  • 6.6 The Steering Committee will establish mechanisms to ensure effective program development and delivery, with the flexibility for bringing in observers and advisors as needed based on priorities brought forth by Steering Committee. All of which is supported by the Secretariat.
  • 6.7 The Steering Committee will identify the focus areas including, but not limited to: partial upgrading, non-aqueous extraction, oil sands tailings, fossil fuel development and related oil sands environmental issues, pipeline safety, and oil spill response. New areas of focus relating to broader clean energy research and technology will be identified and defined by the Steering Committee throughout the term of the MOU.


  • 7.1 Any financial obligations of the Government of Canada related to this MOU or its implementation are subject to the express condition that the Parliament of Canada appropriates sufficient funds necessary for the fiscal year in which they are to be applied.
  • 7.2 Any financial obligations of the Government of Alberta related to this MOU or its implementation are subject to the express condition that the Legislature of Alberta appropriates sufficient funds necessary for the fiscal year in which they are to be applied.
  • 7.3 The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta will consider opportunities to pursue and secure dedicated funding, or funding commitments in order to progress and expand this MOU. Funding potential, general focus areas and initial opportunities are set out in the Annex attached to this MOU.


  • 8.1 This MOU will take effect on the date set out at the beginning of the MOU.
  • 8.2 This MOU will be in effect for a period of five (5) years or until terminated by either Participant on six (6) months written notice to the other Participant.
  • 8.3 The Participants will undertake an evaluation of the performance and effectiveness of the MOU after three (3) years. A summative evaluation will occur in year five (5) of the MOU and will help to inform future direction for the MOU.
  • 8.4 This MOU may be extended by the mutual written agreement of the Participants.
  • 8.5 Repeated evaluation and renewal per sections 8.3 and 8.4, with agreed upon content adjustments including the major areas of focus, allow for an ongoing collaborative arrangement between NRCan and EDT.


  • 9.1 This MOU may be amended by the mutual written agreement of the Participants.


  • 10.1 This MOU is not a legally binding agreement and does not create any legally binding obligations. The MOU does not create any relationship of employment, agency, partnership or joint venture between the Participants.
  • 10.2 Nothing in this MOU is to be construed so as to affect the jurisdiction of either the Government of Alberta or the Government of Canada.

The Participants have signed this Memorandum of Understanding by their authorized representatives as of the date written above.


Government of Canada 
Name: The Honourable James Gordon Carr 
Title: Minister of Natural Resources

Government of Alberta
Per: _________________________
Name: Deron Bilous
Title: Minister of Economic Development and Trade




Approved pursuant to the Government Organization Act


Name: Garry Pocock   
Intergovernmental Relations, Executive Council

2nd day of March, 2017



*Funding potential will be determined solely by each individual party according to their relative interest in proposed projects and initiatives and their respective capacities to provide this funding. These are separate funding programs and projects with strong alignment with the Collaboratory.

Government of Alberta:

Programs and Research:

CanmetENERGY Laboratories: The three CanmetENERGY labs support science and clean technology development with expertise in:

  1. Funding potential*
    • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan): Internal and external funding from the Office of Energy Research and Development on clean technology R&D projects is awarded through the competitive process. Proposals will be developed in collaboration with Alberta-Canada Collaboratory on Clean Energy Research and Technology members.
    • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC): ECCC offers funding through various Grants and Contributions programs. These programs offer funding to eligible groups, organizations and individuals for local action projects that protect or conserve our natural environment and create employment opportunities for young scientists and post-secondary graduates seeking hands-on training.
    • Western Economic Diversification (WD): WD could support clean technology projects through a call for proposals process under the Western Diversification Program and/or the Western Innovation Initiative.
    • Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC): The Sustainable Development Tech Fund is designed to support the development and pre-commercial demonstration of cleantech solutions. The Fund supports those innovative technologies with the potential to meet market demand and to achieve Canada’s environmental and economic goals in current priority areas: responsible natural resource development; carbon-free power generation and distribution; energy efficiency for industry and communities; and next generation technologies with longer-term benefits for Canada.
    • Alberta Economic Development and Trade (EDT): As part of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan and other related strategies and plans, Alberta EDT in alignment with other Alberta ministries and Alberta Innovates (AI) intend to make investments in research and innovation that will reduce emissions and contribute to related environmental and economic outcomes.
    • Alberta Energy: Alberta Energy has funding programs in place that supports further the development of enhanced oil and gas recovery technologies and emission reduction efforts. In particular, the Innovative Energy Technologies Program (IETP) supports innovation, research and technology development. The IETP supports pilot and demonstration projects that use innovative technologies to increase recoveries from existing reserves and encourage responsible development of oil, natural gas and in situ oil sands reserves.
    • Alberta Climate Change Office / Alberta Environment and Parks: The carbon levy is the key tool that will pay for the transition to a more diversified economy. Over the next 5 years, revenue from the Climate Leadership Plan, including the carbon levy, is expected to raise $9.6 billion. A significant portion of the carbon levy ($3.4 billion) is expected to be reinvested in the development of large scale renewable energy, bioenergy and technology.
    • Alberta Innovates (AI): AI is the lead agency for advancing energy and environmental technology innovation in Alberta. AI has funding programs in support of the development of innovative, integrated ways to convert Alberta’s natural resources into market-ready, environmentally responsible energy and the sustainable management of Alberta’s water resources. Funding is awarded through a competitive process.
    • Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA): ERA's mandate is to accelerate development of innovative technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure Alberta’s success in a lower carbon economy. ERA funds technologies and projects related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner energy production, carbon capture and storage and carbon use. Funding is awarded through a competitive process.
  2. Focus areas
    • Alignment between the governments of Canada and Alberta can include the following categories of initiatives:
      • .Cleaner natural resources,
      • Bio-industrial,
      • Energy efficiency and environmental performance, and
      • Transforming the energy mix
  3. Deliverables
    • Short-Term (2017-2018 and 2018-2019):
      • Collaborative funding of up to four projects as per Flagship Initiatives, Annex IV.
      • Some recent achievements are:
        • NRCan’s $50 million Oil and Gas Cleantech Demonstration fund under the Energy Innovation Program is an example of collaborating on funding. It is anticipated that this program will fund collaborative projects with InnoTech Alberta. AI has assisted NRCan in the application process and Government of Alberta will co-fund projects.
          • Four demonstration projects: (NRCan: $36M and AI: $8.4M) - Three advanced recovery processes (two solvent processes, and one direct steam generation) and one partial upgrading. 
          • Two front end engineering design  (FEED) studies: (NRCan: $3.9M and AI: $1.1M (one on bitumen partial upgrading and another on in-situ H2 production)

            Two of the four demonstration projects have AI funding approval already and other four (two demonstration projects and two FEED studies) are being evaluated.
        • Alberta Innovates and CanmetEnergy – Devon have developed a National Partial Upgrading Program (NPUP) with six oil sands companies. The first field demonstration project from NPUP has been initiated.
        • SDTC and ERA: SDTC and ERA held a joint funding call in early 2016. This initiative will award up to $40M to small and medium-sized enterprises across Canada to develop GHG reducing technologies that are deployable in Alberta
        • SDTC and AI: SDTC and AI held a joint funding call in early 2016. This initiative will award up to $8M towards clean water projects.
    • Long-Term
      • Support the transition of Alberta towards a low carbon, circular economy, and capitalize on opportunities to develop new technology products and services for global opportunities.
      • Support industrial growth and diversification.
      • Enable the development and investment in large-scale clean tech projects.
  4. Flagship Initiatives
    • National Partial Upgrading Program (NPUP):  Alberta Innovates (AI) is currently collaborating with NRCan through their CanmetENERGY research facility in Devon on the following projects:
      • Partial upgrading technologies:   This program is founded on more open collaboration and knowledge sharing, as well as leveraging funds. Plans are in place to achieve 20% of in-situ production partially upgraded to improve quality and reduce the diluent requirements.
      • Non-aqueous extraction:  co-funding a project to test combined solvent/water extraction of bitumen from mined oil sands which would reduce water and energy requirements compared to current treatment.  Future opportunity is to expand the program in a similar manner to the NPUP.
    • Hybrid Solvent Extraction Process (HBEP): The HBEP process was initially developed by Dr. Zheng Xu at the University of Alberta through his AI sponsored NSERC Industrial Research Chair.  HBEP offers improved oil recovery, reduced energy and water use, and less greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Carbon Commercialization Centre: The proposed Carbon Commercialization Centre presents a model where industry, innovators, researchers and government can collaborate to develop and de-risk transformational carbon utilization technologies. This work will begin with the Alberta’s ERA Grand Challenge and the internationally recognized, industry-sponsored Carbon XPRIZE – but it will continue well beyond 2020 as technologies continue to be developed in this rapidly growing and global area of innovation. GoA (Alberta Climate Change Office) and NRCan to each contribute $10M to construct the proposed Centre.  AI will operate the facility on behalf of the GoA.
    • Tailings collaborative between NRCan, InnoTech Alberta, University of Alberta and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology– at initial stages. The collaborative will tackle challenges presented by mine tailings, such as oil sands tailings.
    • Mission Innovation (MI): Canada, along with other countries, is a participant in MI.   Participating governments have agreed to double their investments in clean energy research and development over five years, encourage private sector funding of clean energy R&D, and increase domestic and international collaboration to advance MI goals.
    • Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF): Advancing energy technology and innovation is a key component of the implementation of PCF. The PCF has identified four areas of immediate focus: clean technology, innovation, and jobs; carbon pricing mechanisms adapted to each province and territory’s specific circumstances and in particular the realities of Canada's Indigenous peoples and Arctic and sub-Arctic regions; specific mitigation opportunities; and, adaptation and climate resilience. The four working groups have released their final reports, which served as basis for developing the PCF.
    • Program of Energy Research and Development (PERD): PERD funds R&D designed to ensure a sustainable energy future for Canada in the best interests of both our economy and our environment.
    • Energy Innovation Program (EIP): The EIP funds R&D and RD&D projects in support of reducing greenhouse gas and increasing Canadian prosperity and competitiveness. The EIP currently has three components, namely Oil and Gas Cleantech Program, Clean Energy Innovation Program, and Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstrations.
    • Devon – oil sands, and heavy oil processes, oil spill recovery and response, tight oil and gas;
    • Varennes – buildings, industrial processes, photovoltaic energy, integration of renewable and distributed energy resources, smart grid, RET Screen International; and
    • Ottawa – alternative fuels, bioenergy, biofuels, calcium and chemical looping, carbon capture utilization and storage, fuel cell, geothermal energy, net-zero energy buildings and housing, renewable energy, solar thermal energy, wind energy.

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