From its roots in oil and gas, Canada’s energy industry is evolving and is now tasked with a dual mandate of growing its production to meet national and global energy demand while also pursuing a low-carbon future to meet the world’s net-zero goals.

To fulfill these needs, new sectors are emerging across Canadian energy. Lower-carbon energy sources like biofuels and hydrogen and processes like liquefied natural gas and carbon capture and storage empower the energy industry to realize its ultimate goal of low-carbon energy production.

These four emerging sectors are examples of the growing opportunities in the Canadian energy industry.

Biofuels: The power of the sun

Biofuels are renewable energy sources made from biological materials that store the sun’s energy. Commonly referred to as biomass, these materials include wood, vegetable oils, animal fats, and food by-products and waste.

Did you know?

The terms biomass-based fuels and biofuels are used interchangeably. Biomass is organic material derived from plants or animal waste and turned into energy sources, aka biofuels.

Biofuels meet the same quality and standards as petroleum-based fuels and can be used in existing engines and infrastructure. Biomass differs from other renewable energy sources like wind and solar with its ability to be turned into liquid biofuels for transportation use, making it similar to gasoline, jet fuel and diesel. The most common biofuels used today are ethanol and biodiesel.


Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): Meeting global demand

Natural gas is an established energy source warming homes and powering industries around the world. Transporting natural gas throughout North America is possible using an effective pipeline network, but pipelines won’t help the growing demand for natural gas overseas. That’s where liquefied natural gas (LNG) comes in.

Did you know?

In its liquid state, natural gas is about 600 times smaller than its gaseous state.

LNG is a colourless, odourless, non-corrosive and non-toxic liquid formed by cooling natural gas to approximately -162°C whose vapours only burn when exposed to a high heat source at concentrations of between five and 15 per cent when mixed with air. As a liquid, natural gas shrinks greatly and is stored at relatively low pressure, making LNG safer and more cost-effective to ship around the world.

Canada’s first LNG facility will be the LNG Canada project based in British Columbia. Once completed, the plant will initially provide around 6.5 million tonnes per annum (Mt/a) of LNG before ramping up to 14 Mt/a, possibly increasing to 26 Mt/a down the road. LNG Canada says peak construction will require 4,500 jobs be filled, including welders, electricians, sheet metal workers, transport truck drivers, boilermakers, concrete finishers and many other trades and occupations. Given the nature of shift work, this would employ around 7,500 workers.

Canada’s plentiful natural gas reserves position it to become a major natural gas producer as it expands to global markets.


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): Low-carbon solutions

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a series of advanced technologies designed to prevent the release of CO2 emissions from large industrial operations into the atmosphere by capturing and storing them safely and permanently in underground geological formations.

Point sources for carbon capture include industrial plants for products like cement or steel and processing facilities for oil and natural gas. Direct air capture can capture CO2 already in the atmosphere for transport to storage sites via pipeline, trucks, trains or ships. After transport, it’s injected into deep, underground porous rock formations covered with a layer of impermeable rock, called caprock. Companies must monitor storage reservoirs and injection wells to ensure the CO2 remains underground permanently.


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the process of removing excess carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely underground, but the sector will also refer to carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) as some industries innovate ways to utilize captured carbon for useful products like soap and concrete.

Canada’s experience, knowledge and technology with pipelines, infrastructure, depleted oil and gas reservoirs and overall site operation can facilitate a thriving CCS sector. The workforce is transferable between both industries, providing multiple long-term career opportunities for workers.


Hydrogen: an abundant opportunity

As Earth’s most abundant element, hydrogen has enormous potential to contribute to global efforts towards a net-zero economy. As the sector continues growing, the demand for skilled workers will follow with a rapidly expanding workforce. It may be several years before it’s a significant energy option, but Canada’s energy industry is well-positioned to develop and benefit from the opportunity.


Did you know?

Natural Resources Canada predicts hydrogen could fuel more than 350,000 jobs and generate over $50 billion in direct revenue annually by the middle of the 21st century.

Natural Resources Canada

Hydrogen is used in many of today’s industrial processes, such as oil and gas refining, as well as a feedstock for fertilizer. As a fuel, its high energy density allows it to store a lot of energy in small amounts of mass, creating several potential uses including home heating, electricity generation, long-term energy storage and fuel cells to power vehicles. When burned, pure hydrogen generates heat or electricity without emitting CO2—water vapour is the only by-product. Emissions can still be generated however, depending on the methods used for production and transport.

Challenges and opportunities

With Canada’s 2050 net-zero goal, the broader energy industry is dedicating ample resources and attention into realizing hydrogen’s potential. It’s a great place for new workers and experienced workers pivoting their careers to establish themselves in Canada’s energy evolution.

With emerging sectors come emerging career opportunities

Canada’s energy industry is becoming increasingly integrated as new sectors emerge. Many skills and areas of expertise crossover from one sector to the next as Canadian energy works to meet its dual mandate of growing production while pursuing a low-carbon future.

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