New Federal Numbers Confirm the End of Support for Renewable Power

Dec. 10, 2009

COPENHAGEN - Stephen Harper will be the only G-7 leader to arrive in Copenhagen without a major national program to support renewable power.  New data from Natural Resources Canada [1] reveal that the federal government's support for renewables will effectively end as of January 2010.

The federal government has supported low-impact renewable energy development through the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program since 2007. The initiative has been very successful in creating clean energy and new jobs in every province, and has been very important to fostering the growth of renewable power in Canada.

The government's decision not to renew the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program, (or to invest in another program to provide meaningful support for renewable power) indicates that the federal government has no plans to provide any support to new renewable energy projects in 2010.

"With almost 11,000 megawatts (MW) of projects in the queue for a program designed for 4,000 MW, it is pretty clear that the last few dollars have been spoken for," said Tim Weis, Director of Renewable Energy and Efficiency Policy at the Pembina Institute. "At the current pace of growth, federal support for renewable power will effectively finish this month."

It has been clear for months this program would end prematurely [2], but there has been no signal from the government that it intends to renew or strengthen its previous commitments to renewable power. In contrast, the United States has created a very attractive investment market by outspending Canada on renewable energy by 14:1, on a per capita basis, in their respective 2009 budgets [3].

"With Canada's renewable industry on the cusp of a major growth spurt creating jobs while delivering long-term environmental benefits, it is a strange time for the federal government to walk away," said Steven Guilbeault from Equiterre. "This new federal data is yet another illustration of why Canada is lagging here in Copenhagen."

The ecoENERGY budget was set at $1.48 billion, paid out over 14 years [4]. In comparison, the Federal government allocated $1.5 billion this year to nuclear power ($651 million in 2009) and to carbon capture and storage for coal ($850 million over 5 years through Clean Energy Fund).

"As reducing emissions becomes increasingly urgent, this government is choosing to subsidize pollution, rather than reduce it," Dave Martin from Greenpeace Canada added. "The tar sands continue to receive billions in subsidies from this government while renewables are left out in the cold."

Canada has the potential to generate at least 20% of its national electricity from the wind alone - a feat Denmark accomplished in the year 2000. Combined with other renewables such as biomass, small hydro and geothermal, renewable power needs to play a major part in delivering on the government's promise to achieve 90 per cent of Canada's electricity from non-emitting sources by 2020.

The Pembina Institute has released a fact sheet that outlines many of the benefits that wind power can deliver for Canada.

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Chart: Uptake of ecoENERGY for renewable power
(data for graph collected from Natural Resources Canada)

For more information contact:

Tim Weis
Director, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
The Pembina Institute
Cell: 613-601-6519

Hannah McKinnon, Communications Coordinator
Climate Action Network Canada
hmckinnon@climateactionnetwork.ca
In Copenhagen: + (45) 2553 6081


[1] www.ecoaction.gc.ca/ecoenergy-ecoenergie/power-electricite/index-eng.cfm

[2] "It has been a very successful project. It is anticipated that we will have exhausted the funding about a year and a half earlier than anticipated. That has caused great concern for the wind energy folks." Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Natural Resources, Standing Committee on Natural Resources (April 23, 2009).

[3] canada-v-us-investment-in-re-ee-backgrounder.pdf

[4] In comparison, the federal government allocated $1.5 billion this year to nuclear power ($651 million in 2009) and to carbon capture and storage for coal ($850 million over 5 years through Clean Energy Fund).

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