We are living in an era of exciting and challenging transformation — as a company, an industry and a global community. We have choices to make about our shared energy future and the role we will all play in shaping it. As the world goes through an energy transition, our goal is to reduce emissions of our current operations and expand our energy offerings into low-emissions businesses to provide the energy the world needs. We’re reducing our emissions by harnessing technology and innovation — including looking beyond today’s current capabilities.
As part of this transformation, we also continue to implement new digital technologies across the company to help improve the safety, productivity, reliability and environmental performance of our operations to enable operational efficiencies and drive cost savings. In 2020, we invested $535 million in technology development, deployment and digitalization; almost 50% of that investment went directly toward emissions-related technology.
Strategic partnerships and investments
Suncor monitors technologies being developed around the world to determine if, and when, an investment by us could make sense to advance a technology and adapt it for our business. Sometimes we seek out these companies, and other times they contact us directly through our technology proposal portal. Where appropriate and if aligned with our strategy, we may invest directly in a company or indirectly through a clean-tech venture capital firm.
We may also commit to be the first customer when technology ideas align with the needs of our operations or businesses. In addition to financial support, in some instances we invest our technical expertise through secondment positions with partner companies.
This type of technology development is carefully managed to ensure it provides economic and environmental benefits to Suncor. Our approach to strategic partnerships and collaborations is a key strategy in a world of fast-changing products and services.
- Academic partnerships: Suncor is a long-time supporter of research and program work at leading Canadian universities. We hosted our second Academic Technology Forum virtually in October 2020. The Academic Forum connected Suncor with researchers, technology innovators, engineers, scientists, and academics from around the world, and is another pathway for Suncor to build and strengthen our innovation network.
- ArcTern Ventures: Suncor invested in ArcTern, a venture capital firm investing globally in breakthrough clean technology companies addressing climate change and sustainability.
- Emerald Technology Ventures: a clean technology venture capital pioneer we continue to invest in through their Industrial Innovation Fund.
- Enerkem Inc.: Enerkem is a waste-to-renewable fuels and chemicals technology developer and producer. In addition to direct investments, Suncor has employees seconded to Enerkem projects to provide operational support and increase operational discipline based on Suncor’s extensive experience. In 2020, Enerkem, Suncor and other partners announced construction plans for the Varennes Carbon Recycling facility in Quebec that will convert non-recyclable commercial and industrial waste, as well as forestry waste, into renewable fuels and renewable chemicals.
- LanzaJet Inc.: LanzaJet will produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from ethanol derived from a variety of sustainable sources, including wastes and residues. Suncor is a founding investor alongside Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and LanzaTech Inc., along with Shell and British Airways (International Airlines Group) who formalized their announced investments in 2021. These investments will help build LanzaJet’s first SAF- producing plant Freedom Pines Fuels in Soperton, Georgia, U.S. in 2022 and establish LanzaJet as a global leader in renewable fuels production.
- LanzaTech: a biofuels firm based in the United States that is advancing a proprietary gas phase fermentation technology to recycle waste gas and greenhouse gas emissions into low-carbon fuels and chemicals.
- Microsoft: Suncor has a multi-year strategic alliance with Microsoft Canada as part of our efforts to empower a connected and collaborative workforce, upgrade data centres, and increase analytics capabilities. We are leveraging Microsoft’s full range of cloud solutions to improve safety, productivity and sustainability through artificial intelligence, machine learning, enhanced automation, visualization, and industrial Internet of Things services.
- Svante: In early 2021, Suncor invested in Vancouver-based Svante, a carbon capture technology company. With support from Suncor and other companies, Svante is accelerating the commercial deployment of its technology to capture CO2 from heavy-emitting industries like cement, steel, and oil and gas production at a lower cost than current methods.
We all have a role to play in creating our energy future. Moving forward requires deep conversations. These conversations help us understand what we all want — a good quality of life, a healthy environment and vibrant communities. Read more about our social innovation efforts.