The Province is investing $6.6 million in two cutting-edge clean technology projects – one that will create synthetic gas from waste wood to generate heat and power, and another for windows that darken in sunlight and lighten at the flick of a switch, announced Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources on behalf of Iain Black, Minister of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development.

“These latest investments from our Innovative Clean Energy Fund are helping to move new technologies that have been proven on a small-scale into the marketplace. This creates jobs for British Columbians and strengthens B.C.’s leadership in the world’s green economy,” said Black.

“With a total commitment of more than $60 million to 41 projects across the province, the ICE Fund is tackling climate change head-on by supporting B.C. clean energy innovators and entrepreneurs who are pioneering new technologies, new approaches and new ideas,” said Black.

ICE Fund support of $2.1 million goes to SWITCH Materials Inc., developers of thin films based on patented organic materials that “switch” optical properties by darkening automatically when exposed to sun, and rapidly bleaching on command when stimulated by electricity. The project will commercialize “smart” windows using this technology, creating 11 jobs immediately and more than 60 jobs by 2017.

“With ICE Fund support, we’re now in a position to accelerate the commercialization of our technology, showcasing its performance benefits and energy savings to buyers and investors,” said Doug Wiggin, CEO of Burnaby-based SWITCH. “We are proud to contribute to clean-energy solutions for British Columbians and to B.C.’s growing reputation as a global leader in clean tech.”

Another $4.5 million will help the University of British Columbia and its project partners, Nexterra Systems Corp., GE Energy and FP Innovations, develop a system that uses biomass to create synthetic gas, which will be fired directly into a gas engine to produce both heat and energy for UBC’s Vancouver campus. The project will create 50 jobs immediately and almost 900 jobs by 2016.

“Partnerships are key to building B.C.’s clean-energy future, and with this funding from government we will set a new global standard for small-scale biomass systems that generate both heat and power,” said UBC president Prof. Stephen Toope. “Immediately, our project will create jobs and lower greenhouse gas emissions by 4,500 tonnes per year. Looking ahead, we hope to see similar plants operating in B.C.’s remote northern forest communities and public institutions around the world.”

The funding for the biomass-fuelled heat and power system followed an MOU between the ICE Fund and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm’s-length, not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada.

“By working together to identify high-calibre clean tech projects in B.C., SDTC and the ICE Fund are contributing to develop the province’s clean-tech sector,” said Vicky Sharpe, president and CEO of SDTC. “The funding awarded to UBC, Nexterra and GE, by both organizations, is a great example of this partnership.”

The ICE Fund supports new pre-commercial technologies in the electricity, alternative energy, transportation and oil and gas sectors, as well as commercial technologies not yet used in B.C. The government’s $60-million dollar investment to date has supported projects worth more than $235 million.

The fund was created to help solve the pressing environmental and energy challenges in B.C. identified by government. It helps B.C. companies showcase their technologies to international markets and demonstrate the commercial viability of new energy technologies. The third call for funding proposals closes on July 5.