The University of Alberta will get $75 million in federal funding to further research into the environmental footprint of unconventional fossil fuels and developing greener energy sources.

The university said Tuesday it will use the money to set up the Future Energy Systems Research Institute.

The institute will bring together researchers from across several disciplines to deal with issues related to oilsands mining such as tailings ponds, greenhouse emissions, water use, land reclamation and transportation of oil and gas products.

The institute will also build on the university's strengths in advanced materials, smart electrical grids and biofuels to help Canada move to a low-carbon energy economy.

The work will push Canadian energy and environment research "onto a new level," U of A president David Turpin said.

"We will …. deliver solutions to the world's most urgent energy challenges, reducing the environmental footprint of today's energy system and making the transition to a cleaner, safer and more abundant low-carbon energy future," he said in a news release.

The funding allows the university "to pioneer a made-in-Alberta solution to help solve the world's energy challenges, helping us to transition to a low-carbon economy," said U of A chemistry professor Jillian Buriak.

Buriak, whose research could be eligible for funding from the new institute, is developing low-cost solar cells, including a version that uses a spray-coating technology.

The institute will collaborate with the University of Calgary, which also received a $75-million grant for research aimed at transforming oilsands extraction to improve efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint.

The grants are part of a $900-million Canada First Excellence Research Fund, which will be divvied up among 13 Canadian universities.