Ontario Invites Global Investment in Cleantech Sector

ABB Building

By Sam Eifling

December 12, 2013

A delegation from Ontario presented the province as ripe for investment to a clean technology conference in Paris, while a report on Ontario's renewable energy stirred criticism of the province's current wind energy projects.

The Ontario Clean Technology Alliance ballyhooed a recent $80 million investment from ABB Ltd., a Zurich-based power multinational, at Pollutec Horizons 2013, the Parisian conference for companies and governments pursuing sustainable development. With its local partner Bondfield Construction, ABB will build a 100-megawatt photovoltaic solar component of the Grand Renewable Energy Park, a $5 billion project south of Hamilton by Samsung Renewable Energy.

In a statement, Robert Nolan, the Durham (Ont.) manager for investment attraction, said Canada and Ontario are in an "infrastructure super-cycle" that will generate at least $350 billion in projects during the next five years. "To build out these ambitious projects," Nolan said, "Ontario needs help from clean technology product and service firms from around the world."

Meanwhile in Toronto, the Star's Martin Regg Cohn seized on the portions of the province's recently released Long Term Energy Plan that show the province will scale back its ambitions for wind power after overestimating wind's viability within the province's power mix.

The reasons, Cohn writes, can be found in a report by the consulting firm IHS-CERA called, tellingly, "Too Much, Too Fast — The Pace of Greening the Ontario Power System" (available for purchase only). The crux of the problem in Ontario, he writes, is that wind power was swapped in for coal despite certain structural disadvantages — namely, that wind in Ontario is most likely to blow when customers want the least power, and least likely to blow when demand for power is highest. That unpredictability means the province often must curtail production from hydro and nuclear sources, neither of which are easy to slow.

Still, the Long Term Energy Plan predicts an ever-rising share of Ontario's power demand will shift away from nuclear and toward renewables. From 2013 to 2025, the IHS-CERA report finds, nuclear's portion of energy production will fall from 59 percent to 42 percent. Meanwhile solar photovoltaic and bioenergy both will triple to 3 percent apiece, wind will rise from 3 percent to 11 percent, hydro will rise from 23 percent to 29. Coal, now 2 percent of production, will disappear.