Dark Days for Green Energy in Canada

Jan. 29, 2009

Renewable energy in Canada was dealt back to back blows this week. First, Canada failed to join over 75 countries that founded the International Renewable Energy Agency this week, whose mission is to promote the widespread adoption and the sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy.

Next, Tuesday’s federal budget effectively ended the major federal support for new renewable energy development in Canada.

“At a time when renewable energy is receiving more and more support around the world, Canada is moving in exactly the opposite direction,” says Tim Weis, Director of Renewable Energy and Efficiency at the Pembina Institute. “Canada risks being left out of the green economy of the 21st century, which is bad for our economy and bad for the environment.”

The ecoENERGY for Renewable Power program has been the major federal support mechanism for renewable energy in Canada. The broad interest in investing in renewable energy has meant that the program has been massively over-subscribed and will run out of money to support new renewable power projects two years ahead of schedule. The federal government’s failure to renew and expand this program has jeopardized at least 1,500 megawatts of “shovel ready” wind energy projects across the country, while putting the brakes on billions of dollars of potential future investment.

For every dollar spent by the government, the ecoENERGY program has been able to leverage seven dollars of private investment. The renewable energy industry had hoped for a five-year extension of this program, which was projected to spur over $6 billion of private investment in the Canadian economy and to create over 8,000 jobs.

President Obama announced over $55 billion of support for renewable energy and energy efficiency as part of his recent “recovery and re-investment” package, making it a key element of his administration’s plans for economic revival. Canada’s failure to make a proportional investment risks having jobs and investment in renewable energy move south of the border.

“This move essentially pulls the carpet out from under an industry that was actually continuing to grow despite the economic downturn,” says Weis. “Canada’s failure to continue to support renewable power is a huge missed opportunity to be a part of a transition to a global sustainable economy.”

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For more information contact:
Tim Weis, P.Eng.
Director, Renewable Energy and Efficiency Policy
613-601-6519

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