Energy and Environment

In Ontario, the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) estimates the energy and environment sectors are worth $8B in annual revenues and $1B in export. One of the key drivers for innovation and stimulation of economic growth is new legislation: the Green Energy and Green Economy Act which was enacted into legislation in 2009 and the Water Opportunities and Water Conservation Act which was enacted in 2010.

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) has been a significant player in the energy sector for years, investing approximately $37M since 2005 in developing clean energy technologies that directly affect how we live, work, move, the fuels we use, and energy end-use technologies, as well as energy conversion, and transmission and distribution technologies. Industry co-investment in these research and development projects totals over $65M. A $10M investment to further solar, hydrogen and conservation and demand management technologies has been made through OCE’s Special Energy Fund (SEF) since 2008. 

OCE’s investment in environmental technologies dates back to its inception, investing close to $126M which has been leveraged to well over $250M through partner contributions. There are a number of major issues facing this sector with many stakeholder groups involved: increasing populations into urban areas; aging infrastructure; and climate change impacts. To that end, OCE has worked with industry, academia and all levels of government to build communities of interest in every aspect of environmental technology including:

  • Clean Water Technologies – Drinking water, wastewater and source water protection
  • Clean Air Technologies – Air quality (indoor and outdoor) and environmental health
  • Sustainable Agriculture – Greenhouse industry and agricultural bio-products including viticulture
  • Sustainable Infrastructure – Brownfield remediation; buried infrastructure; green buildings; technologies for sustainable communities
  • Waste Management – Landfill waste diversion; waste minimization
  • Resource Management – Mining and mineral exploration; forest management; integrated information management systems

Of particular note is Ontario’s water industry, with 900 firms and 22,000 employees, which covers the full spectrum of leading water technology and service providers. Ontario is also a global leader in developing clean water innovation and management through the expertise in its universities and colleges. Since 2004, OCE has invested more than $4.3 million in 45 water-related projects that have engaged 55 research experts, and approximately 100 college and university students. OCE’s participation has also attracted an additional $5.83 million in follow-on investment.

Over the past few years OCE has developed a holistic framework that recognizes the inter-relationship of energy, water, climate change, effective use of resources, and land use for food and agriculture. We recognize the need for creative financing and integration of information and communication technologies to better manage and support asset management and development of smarter cities and communities.

Recent Successes in this Area

SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions

October 19, 2017

Advanced biological hydrolysis technology is an important step toward realizing GE’s goal of enabling energy-neutral wastewater treatment in North America
An ongoing partnership between SUEZ Water Technologies and Solutions (formerly GE Water & Process Technologies) and the University of Guelph aims to offer cities a sustainable solution for wastewater treatment.

Municipalities across North America treat sewage sludge using a biological process called anaerobic digestion that breaks down biosolids, but the current infrastructure is inefficient. U.K. water utility, United Utilities developed advanced technology known as biological (enzymatic) hydrolysis, which was commercialized by Monsal Limited Biological hydrolysis can enable existing anaerobic digestion infrastructure to increase its treatment capacity by up to three times, and condition sludge entering the digester to yield 25 per cent more biogas, a valuable by-product that can be converted into renewable energy. In 2014, GE acquired Monsal to fill out its energy-neutral portfolio. Following acquisition, GE expanded an existing partnership with a University of Guelph research team to enhance the technology and adapt it for the North American market. 

The advanced biological hydrolysis technology not only makes anaerobic digestion more efficient but also has the unique benefit of producing a pathogen-free Class A biosolid, which can be used as an alternative to synthetic fertilizers. With support from OCE’s Voucher for Innovation and Productivity II (VIP II) program and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium’s (SOWC) Advancing Water Technologies (AWT) program, the team developed a pilot unit demonstrating the technology at SOWC’s facility in Guelph, which opened in January 2017. 

The advanced biological hydrolysis technology is an important step toward realizing GE’s goal of enabling energy-neutral wastewater treatment in North America and opens new opportunities for co-digestion of other organics such as food waste. Following the successful pilot, GE is pursuing partnerships with Ontario municipalities to implement a full-scale demonstration of the technology.