Canadian Manufacturing

Clean energy investment on the rise, but Canada still lagging leaders

Stalled federal support for cleantech holding sector back, report says

VANCOUVER—The Canadian clean energy sector posted 17 per cent growth in 2014, garnering nearly $10.7 billion in investments. Despite the strong showing , other countries are still seeing their cleantech sectors expand faster, according to a new Clean Energy Canada report.

The close to $11 billion in investments the sector received represents an 88 per cent jump over the total seen in 2013, and originates both from within Canada and without.

“On the ground, that cash translated into a lot of concrete and steel. The nation’s utilities and developers have been steadily building vast solar and wind farms, humming hydro plants, and biofuel and biomass plants—particularly in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, where favourable policy frameworks encourage them to do so,” the report says.

With 89 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity, including hydro, Canada ranks fourth in the world in generating capacity. Still, Clean Energy Canada, a think tank based out of Simon Fraser University, says a lack of federal leadership on the issue is hampering quicker growth.

“Canada’s provinces—and, to be fair, cities—are presently doing almost all of the heavy lifting on clean energy. Ottawa has been focusing both its domestic and foreign policy efforts on getting Canada’s fossil fuels out of the ground and to market,” the report says.

“With the right direction and the right support, Canada could do more than just move a few spots up the global clean energy ranks,” it adds. “We might even give the Americans a run for their money.”

The report points to U.S. president Barack Obama’s recent initiatives south of the border as a good counterpoint to Ottawa’s relative silence on the issue.

“Obama has used the bully pulpit of the White House to drive a clear and consistent message to his Cabinet, Congress, state and industry leaders, and the world: America will be a global leader in the clean-energy race,” the report notes.

Beyond calling for stronger federal leadership, the report pointed to several provincial clean energy successes, such as Ontario, which leads Canada in investment backed by the Green Energy Act.

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