November 22, 2018


What is it?

In brief, the CCT process captures airborne carbon and through a chemical process and creates calcium carbonate (a harmless sea shell-like material).

The carbonate is then re-heated to release CO2 (which is captured and stored permanently underground or sold for other industrial uses).

The basic technology was invented for submariners in WWII, but is only recently being deployed at an industrial scale.

CCT has two main applications:

     - To scrub carbon from the exhaust gases of industrial sites (i.e. fossil-fuel based power generation etc.); 

     - More broadly to scrub carbon from atmospheric air through the use of a giant installation of fans (one such facility is pictured below).

Why it's Popular...

The $360 billion global coal industry is fighting for its survival.

It is using carbon capture technology as a “Hail Mary” attempt to save itself. The concept is that coal can be made cleaner by capturing the carbon emissions and storing it underground.

Is CCT Part of the Answer to Global Warming?

Could this be an expensive exercise in reputation laundering for the coal industry or is there actually some merit to the technology?

Opponents say this is a wasteful bid to prolong coal's life in a world of ever cheaper renewable energy.

While likely true, clean carbon technology isn't just about making coal emissions cleaner.

It is also relevant to industries where there are few cost effective alternatives for carbon reduction: i.e. steel, cement, or petrochemical production.

Cleaning Up The Past…

Researchers suggest that there is over 40% more CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere now than in 1800 (i.e. pre-industrialization).

Addressing climate change with CCT could involve two approaches:

     1. Scrubbing carbon from the emissions of industries where there are few reasonable carbon neutral alternatives;

     2. Addressing the CO2 left over in our atmosphere from hundreds of years of industrialization.

In fact, some very wealthy clean energy investors, including Bill Gates, have started backing startup companies that specialize in the removal of residual carbon in the atmosphere.

November 8, 2019


An online order often starts the same way, with the simple tap of a finger.

Then, two days later, or even in a matter of hours, the package arrives.

The ease and convenience of the process, paired with more and more people living in densely populated urban areas has led to a new consumer lifestyle – buying more and more from the comfort of home.

It seems simple enough and we tend not to give underlying process much thought.

But to deliver any order from businesses that sell over the internet, be it prepared foods, groceries, electronics or furniture, requires billions to be spent on logistics.

In 2018 Amazon spent nearly $28 billion on deliveries in the U.S. market, and costs are rising…

To get a sense of the sheer scale, in New York City more than 1.5 million ecommerce orders are delivered every day.

To get all of these packages delivered, ecommerce companies have to date used a mixed-bag of services from large, professional courier companies, local couriers to crowdsourced “last-mile” delivery drivers using their own vehicles.

Getting Organized…

But now with the promise of one-day delivery starting in some major cities, ecommerce companies need more control (in terms of both cost control and organized capacity) over their distribution networks.

As a leader and innovator in the field, Amazon has taken a two-pronged approach:

1. It’s offering those with entrepreneurial ambitions the option to do more. Instead of showing up for the “gig” last-mile work, drivers can opt for a new program where Amazon helps them establish their own delivery business.

2. Investing heavily in delivery methods of the future involving electric vehicles and robotics. Pictured from left to right: Prime Air, Amazon’s air delivery drone’s for 30-minute urban deliveries; EV vans - a $700 million investment in electric vehicle maker Rivian; Scout, a sub-urban delivery robot.

What to Watch…

1. Tech spending: The expansion to one-day delivery will drive more investment into emerging delivery technologies. This highly competitive arena will be interesting to watch develop over time.

2. Outsourcing to fleet management companies: While Amazon and other major ecommerce companies such as Wal-Mart and Costco have spent heavily on logistics fleets in the past, the trend of outsourcing to independent fleet management companies is growing. These companies, have demonstrated substantial cost savings, reduced risk and increased vehicle uptime for their customers, in exchange for fee-based service. Some of these little known, infrastructure-like businesses that underlie these exciting trends could be attractive long-term investments.

October 25, 2019

The Innovation Environment: Canadian Urban Population Trends

This week the Century Initiative, a think-tank focused on Canada’s long-term economic goals, tabled a detailed plan, at its heart designed to ensure that future generations enjoy the same standard of living that we do today.

The report centered on boosting the national population to 100 million by the year 2100 to ensure continued economic success in Canada.

The bulk of this growth would come through increased immigration.

Otherwise, the Century Initiative’s research shows that current demographic growth trends will translate into a population of about 50 million in 2100 (with growth ceasing thereafter).

As well, the number of senior citizens would be much higher proportionately and create greater fiscal pressures.

This trend is already apparent in data and projections from Statistics Canada (below).

The good news is that Canadian immigration trends set a record this summer (chart below)…

…and this rate puts Canada as the leader (by a wide margin) in the G7….

Where Would All of These People Live?

According to the Century Initiative report, governments should create “mega regions” of dense populations to create “nodes of economic activity”.

To support this level of population growth would see major cities triple in size.

The report projects the Greater Toronto Area will be home to 33 million, while Montreal and Vancouver will each hit 12 million.

Even if the Century Initiative is not implemented in full, it is clear that the populations of major Canadian urban centres will be experiencing continued strong growth.

This Could Be Problematic

Vacancy rates in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are all below 3% (a level that is viewed as healthy for a balanced market).

New supply of rental apartments is only meeting about one-half of the actual need (chart below).

Investment Implications

For investors (both current and prospective), strong urban housing demand is another example of long-term secular growth that will benefit owners of real property, multi-family REIT and property development investors.

October 11, 2019


The new space race is much more intricate than the cold war contest between the US and the Soviet Union and perhaps, ultimately more lucrative.

Pioneering government agencies, like NASA or Roscosmos (Russia) now face competition from private corporate space programs as well as national programs in China and India.

Everything from advancing propulsion systems, space tourism, GPS satellites to colonizing Mars are up for grabs.

Of particular interest, private companies themselves have space ambitions that go well beyond government contracts.

Below is an overview of the major players in the modern space race.


The Beijing government views space as vital for boosting the economy and promoting advanced technologies.

They see space as a very important driver for growth and competitiveness going forward.

The China National Space Agency (CNSA), known for building its own human space flight program without help from the Americans, launched more satellites in 2018 than any other country.

Whereas US and Russian space programs struggle with budgets and funding, China is expanding its investments on every front, including communications, reconnaissance satellites, GPS and human spaceflight.

Major ambitions of the CNSA include:

     - Mission to Mars: 2021

     - Crewed lunar landing: 2030


NASA is known for constantly wanting to be on the cutting edge of technology and mission planning.

They sent the first (and so far the only) humans to the Moon, they hold the records for first probes to visit all the outer planets and even Pluto.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab is the global leader of interplanetary communication, telemetry and travel.


India is looking to take a giant leap in its space program and solidify its place among the world's spacefaring nations, attempting its second unmanned mission to the moon last month.

Like China, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is eager to showcase the country's capabilities in technology.

In 2013 India put a satellite into orbit around Mars in the nation's first interplanetary mission.

India also plans to send humans into space by 2022, becoming only the fourth nation to do so.


Roscosmos is known for dominating the first two thirds of the Space Race of the 1950s and 60s.

Currently the organization is the only human space flight provider to the international community.

Their cosmonauts have more space station experience than anyone else: while NASA kept working away at the Shuttle program, Roscosmos launched 6 space stations, creating expertise that may give them an advantage in the future.


To date, Chinese and US companies are developing most aggressively.

In the US, lucrative government contracts for space launches are awarded to private companies.

Winners get 25 launches, paying $100 - $150 million per launch, which provides plenty of cash to pursue private space exploration agendas.

Beyond government partnerships and contracts, in the US and UK, ‘billionaire-funding’ generally geared toward rockets fit for human travel, are slowly moving forward on their own, privately funded agendas.

China started developing a private space industry in 2014, pledging to encourage private capital’s participation in China’s construction of civilian space infrastructure.

Since then, military-civilian partnerships have become commonplace and private firms have been allowed to launch from military bases.

In China’s commercial space industry, a group of private firms are launching satellites and exploring other money-making applications for space travel.

Patrick Fisher, CIM, FMA

Portfolio Manager & Investment Advisor