Latest blog posts

Posted on February 9th, 2016 – By Mark Lowey

Deploying molten carbonate fuel cell technology in the oil sands could significantly reduce Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential to be cost-effective under the province’s carbon tax, reports a group of University of Calgary engineering students (Figure 1) working with David Layzell, professor and director of the Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) initiative at the university.

Posted on January 26th, 2016 – By David B. Layzell, Bas Straatman and Mark Lowey

For many years, governments in Canada and Alberta have predicted a prosperous future based on sustained pricing of about $US90 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil. Such a price had been predicted to drive oil sands production to more than 5 million barrels per day by 2040, from the current level of approximately 2.3 million b/d. As a result, Alberta’s population was estimated to rise to about 6.2 million people (currently 4.1 million) by 2040 and deliver a provincial GDP of more than $380 billion per year (currently approximately $215 billion/yr).

Such high oil sands growth (HOSG) projections do not seem realistic in 2016, with WTI prices now under $US35 per barrel and Canadian bitumen discounted by at least $15 per barrel on that price – with no respite in sight. Clearly, a low oil sands growth (LOSG) projection may provide a better window on the future, especially when these projections are needed to inform economic and environmental policies, including those guiding the transformation of our energy systems to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meet climate change commitments.

Posted on January 12th, 2016 –

Forty-nine University of Calgary students showcased their research projects on energy systems change and ways to significantly reduce Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions at a special, by-invitation event held in downtown Calgary in December, 2015.

Organized by Canadian Energy Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) Initiative, the “Scenarios for Alberta’s Energy Future” event at the Calgary Marriott Downtown attracted about 140 people. It was jointly sponsored by the University of CalgaryCESAR and the Energy Futures Lab.

Posted on September 8th, 2015 – Op-Ed article by David B. Layzell and Manfred Klein. Published in The Globe and Mail on August 22nd, 2015.

On August 14, 2015, the new government in Alberta released its “Climate Leadership Discussion Document” as part of their plan to 'take more of a leadership role' in addressing climate change. CESAR researchers have been exploring cost-effective strategies to transform Alberta’s energy systems to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions so over the next few months, we will post on, the results of some of our analyses.

Today’s blog is a reprint of an Op-Ed piece we published in the Globe and Mail on 22 August, 2015. It describes the integration of oil sands operations and low carbon electricity generation in the province. We see it as an important, 'Made-in Alberta' opportunity for major GHG emission reductions. Future blogs will provide more details on the assumptions and calculations behind this Op-Ed.

Posted on February 24th, 2015 – By Bastiaan Straatman and David B. Layzell

The Canadian government has committed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 80% of 2006 levels by 2020 and to 30%-40% by 2050. Given that the auditor general has recently noted that we are not on track to meet these commitments, an obvious question is how far off are we?  Even more important from a policy perspective is the need to understand the potential of specific technologies or policies in helping to close this gap. 

Posted on January 6th, 2015 – By Benjamin Israel and David B. Layzell

On Dec 11, 2014, researchers from HEC Montreal, the Business School at University Montreal, released an assessment of the State of Energy in Quebec. The French-only report - État de l’énergie in Quebec – 2015 - received much attention in the province, but less so in other parts of Canada, even though the insights are important and relevant to all Canadians. As contributors of both data and graphics to this study, CESAR researchers have a special interest in the work, and thought that a blog on the report would be a good way to kick off 2015.

Posted on June 11th, 2014 – By Bastiaan Straatman and David B. Layzell

We are often asked where we get the numbers to generate the ‘Sankey’ diagrams in CESARnet that represent the Canadian energy systems. Some assume that these Sankey diagrams are calculated by summing the flows of oil, natural gas or electrons moving through pipes or wires. This is not correct...

Posted on May 14th, 2014 – By Ralph Torrie and David B. Layzell

With all the attention paid to the growth of oil and gas production for export, it is easy to lose sight of the other side of Canada’s energy story in recent years: the dramatic increase in the productivity of fuel and electricity use in the domestic economy.

Posted on May 5th, 2014 – By David B. Layzell, PhD, FRSC, Director, CESAR Initiative & Professor, Univ. Calgary

We all know that Canadian provinces differ greatly in their capacity to produce energy. Less well known is how Canadians from across the nation differ in their demand for energy services.

Posted on May 1st, 2014 – By Ralph Torrie, Senior Associate, CESAR Initiative, and President, Torrie Smith Associates

Visualizing Canada’s energy systems helps us to understand the challenges we face and then identify alternative pathways to a more sustainable energy future. Within CESAR, we have created some exciting new visualization tools, powered by the Canadian Energy Systems Simulator (CanESS), with its unique capacity for looking both forward and backward in time.