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More investment needed in electricity to reach net zero by 2035: experts – St. Albert TODAY

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The federal government needs to invest more money to move the electricity grid to reach Ottawa’s climate goals, say experts in the field.

Last week the federal government released its annual budget, setting aside $600 million for electricity transmission upgrades, which Morinville-St. Albert MLA and Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity Dale Nally says isn’t enough.

“That would build one line in Alberta, and so the true cost to upgrade the transmission in Alberta alone will be multiple billions of dollars,” Nally said, adding that to upgrade the whole country it will cost even more.

“[The federal government] has not been transparent about the true cost of their de-carbonization aspirations.”

Nally said the industry has zero confidence Alberta can achieve the climate goals set out for the electricity grid — net zero by 2035 — and the announcement amounts to “an unworkable plan.”

“It is childlike ambition,” Nally said, adding the province wasn’t consulted on any of the goals or plans, and the industry didn’t receive any meaningful consultation. 

Binnu Jeyakumar, director of clean energy at the Pembina Institute, said if the federal government wants to be ambitious with its climate goals, it must invest much more in clean electricity over the next five years.

“I think we can be a lot more ambitious in terms of the magnitude of investment,” Jeyakumar said.

The Pembina expert said Alberta has one of the dirtiest grids in Canada, and still has a long way to go reach the federal government’s goal of de-carbonizing the grid by 2035. Right now, Alberta has a generation intensity of 602 g CO2 eq/kWh — a ratio measuring CO2 emissions from public electricity production —compared to a national average of 120 g CO2 eq/kWh

Alberta has dramatically accelerated the phase-out of coal power, which is set to be phased out by 2023, Jeyakumar said, even though the goal was 2030.

“One of the things that has facilitated this fast transition is that we are fuel switching from burning coal to burning natural gas. That’s made it easier to take that first step, but now we have to deal with all these natural-gas assets,” Jeyakumar said.

“In a de-carbonized grid, you cannot have natural-gas assets that don’t have [carbon capture, utilization, and storage] attached to them.”

Now the question for Alberta is how to replace natural gas, the expert said, and the province faces unique challenges.

Alberta has fewer electricity ties with other provinces compared to most provinces, making it more difficult to share the resource inter-provincially, Jeyakumar said. Alberta also has a large industrial load that must be catered to, which is a challenge.

The best way to reach the net-zero target by 2035 would require a plan by the provincial government, which Jeyakumar said isn’t happening, although the Alberta Electricity System Operatory has started to explore a pathway to get there.

But Nally said the province, which has the only deregulated electricity market in Canada, will continue to support a market-based approach to solving challenges with the electricity grid.

“[Companies] built significant investments based on the market-based approach and to change that now, it would be it would be disastrous for investors to make significant investments based on a particular market and then, all of a sudden, government decides that they’re not going to have a free and open market,” Nally said.

The free and open market has made Alberta a destination for renewable energy companies, and Nally said and there is no need to change that right now.

“Our market is working. We’ve got more generation coming online, much of it is renewable,” Nally said.

Along with investing in enhancing the electricity grid, the federal government has started a Pan-Canadian Grid Council to establish national standards, best practices, and incentives to promote infrastructure investments, smart grids, grid integration, and electricity sector innovation, with the goal of making Canada the most reliable, cost-effective, and carbon-free electricity producer in the world.

Jeyakumar said the move will be a good one, because electricity is currently a provincial jurisdiction, and the council will help propose policy solutions to deal with a divided electricity grid across Canada.

Ottawa has also set aside $25 million in regional strategic initiatives to promote any kind of regional collaborations between provinces that share borders.

“Together, all of this is a good first step to get to a clean grid,” Jeyakumar said.

Nally said the province is still doing some analysis on the regional and national initiatives, because the province is the only deregulated market in Canada. Nally said Alberta wants to make sure any regional initiatives don’t reduce generation that is available to the Alberta consumer, because that will mean higher costs for ratepayers.

Right now in Alberta, roughly 65 per cent of the maximum capacity on the grid is coming from gas, with coal making up 7.6 per cent of the generation. Some 25 per cent of the maximum capacity on the grid is generated through renewable sources such as hydro, solar, and wind. 

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Norway Oil and Gas Firms Raise 2022 Investment – Offshore Engineer

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Norway’s oil and gas companies have raised their investment forecasts for 2022 as they take advantage of high petroleum prices and tax incentives to boost activity, a national statistics office (SSB) survey showed on Friday.

The biggest business sector in Norway now expects to invest 167.2 billion Norwegian crowns ($17.57 billion) in 2022, up from a forecast of 159.5 billion crowns made in February, SSB said.  

“The upward adjustment for 2022 is driven by higher estimates within the categories field development, onshore activity, and exploration, and concept studies,” the agency said in a statement.

Preliminary predictions for 2023 project investment of 130.6 billion crowns, down from 131.4 billion crowns forecast three months ago. The forecasts, however, remain subject to large revisions as more plans are prepared in coming quarters.

“New developments will significantly increase the estimate for 2023,” SSB said.

Led by state-controlled Equinor and a range of foreign and domestic companies, the Norwegian oil industry’s overall output stands at about 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, making the country-western Europe’s largest producer.

In 2020 Norway’s parliament approved temporary tax incentives to support oil and gas investment in the face of a crash in petroleum demand because of the pandemic.

The incentives are due to end this year and companies need to approve new projects by this deadline to benefit from them.

“It is expected that a very high number of plans for development and operation (PDOs) will be submitted to the government this year; the vast majority of them in December,” SSB said.

The expected investments will provide a boost to the economy, underpinning the Norwegian central bank’s push for higher interest rates in the time ahead, Handelsbanken wrote in a note to clients.

“All signals so far point to a solid rebound in petroleum investments in 2023-24,” the bank said.

($1 = 9.5144 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik/Editing by Jan Harvey and David Goodman)

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Indian fintech Jar eyes $50 million investment – TechCrunch

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Indian fintech Jar, which closed a $32 million financing round in February this year, is in talks to raise new funding as it looks to scale its product and expand its offerings.

The Bengaluru-headquartered startup is engaging with several investors to raise about $50 million at a $350 million valuation, according to four people familiar with the matter. Asked for comment on Wednesday, Misbah Ashraf, co-founder of Jar, said it was too early to comment.

Tiger Global, an existing backer of Jar, is positioning to lead the one-year-old startup’s Series B funding, the sources said, requesting anonymity as the details are private. Folius Ventures and Paramark are also engaging to invest in the new round, the people said.

Jar, which operates an eponymous app, is helping millions of Indians begin their investment and saving journeys. The startup has amassed over 7.5 million registered users, it disclosed to investors last month.

Nearly a billion Indians have bank accounts today, but they have never made any investment. Part of the reason is confusion, explained Nishchay Ag, co-founder and chief executive of Jar, in an earlier interview with TechCrunch. “Their world is littered with ads of different financial instruments,” he told TechCrunch in an earlier interview.

For decades, banks and mutual funds have been trying to tap India masses with their products. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars they have sunk in to win the market, they have been able to court fewer than 30 million individuals.

“Manufacturing a product is one thing and being able to sell it is another. All these institutions are good at manufacturing. For selling, you have to be aligned with the individual’s persona, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, cognitive load and the cultural significance. That’s an art and science by itself,” he said then.

Jar is tackling this by choosing a financial instrument that is familiar to most Indians: gold. For over a century, Indians have been stashing gold in their houses, treating the yellow metal as both good investment and status symbol, he said.

To say Indians, who have a private stash worth $1.5 trillion of the precious metal, would be an understatement. For generations, Indians across the socio-economic spectrum have preferred to stash their savings — or at least a part of it — in the form of gold. In fact, such is the demand for gold in India — Indians stockpile more gold than citizens in any other country — that the South Asian nation is also one of the world’s largest importers of this precious metal.

Jar fetches a tiny amount each time a user makes a transaction. It rounds up an individual’s daily spendings and puts some money aside as investment. Users’ investments in digital gold is backed by physical gold of the same amount and they can choose to withdraw that much gold or liquidate their investments at any time.

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Merck KGaA in largest single investment in manufacturing – BioPharma-Reporter.com

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Merck KGaA will invest more than €440m (US$421m) to expand its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities at its site in Cork, Ireland. The investment will comprise of boosting membrane manufacturing at an existing facility in Carrigtwohill and the construction of an entirely new manufacturing facility.

According to the company, the investment breaks down to a €290m expansion at the Carrigtwohill facility, which is used for the immersion casting of membranes. The membranes produced at the site will support the development of novel and gene therapies, as well as being used for virus sterilization.

The remaining €150m will be spent on constructing a filtration manufacturing facility. The two expansions taken together will create more than 370 roles by the end of 2027.

Matthias Heinzel, CEO of Merck’s Life Science business, noted that the expansion made in Cork is the biggest single location investment in the history of the division, adding that “Ireland is central to our strategy to drive long-term growth.”

Last year, the company expanded its Carrigtwohill facility with a €36m investment to meet demand for lateral flow membrane, which had soared from the impact of COVID-19. The funds were put towards a second lateral flow membrane manufacturing product line, creating 50 jobs and doubling the capacity for the product.

Fueling growth

Merck’s investments are part of an overall strategy to expand its business and group sales, with a stated aim of increasing sales to €25bn by 2025. In order to do so, the company has stated that it plans to increase capital expenditure “significantly compared with the period from 2016 to 2020.”

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