Canadian clean tech is taking off

Magrath Wind Farm - Szmurlo

By MAURA FORREST

March 20, 2014

Canadian clean technology could become a $50 billion industry that employs 100,000 people by 2022, according to a new study.

The 2014 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report found that the industry is currently worth $11 billion and employs 41,100 people, more than either the aerospace or pharmaceutical industries.

Clean technology is also export-oriented, with an impressive $5.8 billion in export revenue, said Céline Bak, president of Analytica Advisors, the company that wrote the report.

“Clean technology companies are converting their investment in innovation into real business that is good for companies and good for the economy and good for the environment,” she said in a phone interview.

Bak listed green buildings and clean transportation among sectors growing and hiring rapidly.

Still, $50 billion remains an ambitious target. At current growth rates, the industry would generate $32 billion in 2022, well shy of the projected goal.

Canada’s clean technology industry consists of more than 700 companies, many of them small and medium enterprises. Substantial capital investment will be needed to boost the number of companies valued at more than $100 million.

Bak said that government grants and crown corporations currently contribute just 20 percent of total equity.

“What’s becoming more important is strategic investors – industry players who are creating venture capital loans,” she said.

Clean technology is a young industry – and the people it employs are, too. The study found that a fifth of clean tech employees are under 30.

“It’s attracting people who are starting out their career and want to build something,” said Bak.

The report comes two months after several World Trade Organization members committed to achieving global free trade in environmental goods. Bak said that any move toward trade liberalization is good news for Canada.

“We don’t have tariffs in Canada,” she said. “Any time there’s an announcement of trade tariffs coming down, it means that our companies will have greater access to markets.”



Photo Credit: Cszmurlo