Canada Boosts Clean Energy Investments with Little Federal Support

Canada Flag Reflection

By Arman Kazemi

September 24, 2015

In 2014, Canadian clean energy investment came in at just under $11 billion, an 88 per cent increase over 2013.

According to Clean Energy Canada’s annual green sector assessment, Tracking the Energy Revolution, Canada is now sixth in the world for investment in new domestic clean energy projects.

Yet the report’s authors stress that Canada’s recent successes have happened in spite of little assistance from the federal government, which could be doing much more to support the industry.

“Canada’s provinces— and, to be fair, cities—are presently doing almost all of the heavy lifting on clean energy,” the report claims. Ottawa, meanwhile, “remains largely indifferent to the opportunities of the clean energy revolution.”

Indeed, nearly half of last year’s investment – about $4.5 billion – came from Ontario alone, which in 2009 implemented the Green Energy Act. In April 2014, the province became the first jurisdiction in North America to fully eliminate coal-burning energy from its electricity grid, opening up space for investment in rival energy sources and clean technology opportunities.

Following closely on Ontario’s heels was Quebec, which in 2014 racked up $3.9 billion in clean energy investment, thanks in large part to housing the largest wind farms in Canada. About $1.34 billion was invested in British Columbia as a result of its vast hydro infrastructure.

With hydroelectricity taken into account, “there’s now roughly 89 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity in Canada,” or enough to power over 35 million homes, “ranking us fourth in the world,” according to the report.

Canada’s share of the global clean energy market is now “valued at $790 billion a year,” according to director of Clean Energy Canada Merran Smith in the National Observer. But Smith said the federal government has yet to play a significant role in the effort. 

South of the border, on the other hand, the Obama administration’s recent Clean Power Plan has boosted incentives for green investment at the state and federal levels and put the U.S. “at the top in clean energy investment,” Smith told the CBC.

“The news on clean energy is good, but with federal leadership, it could be terrific,” she said. “Unlike Washington, Ottawa’s pretty much been ignoring this sector.”