Canada’s amazing—and invisible—green energy sector

“While fighting climate change is frequently presented as a zero-sum game of environment vs. economy, the truth is that green technology innovation and the economy can get along like a zero carbon house no longer threatened by an increase in the severity and frequency of forest fires.”

Clean energy attracts billions in investment every year, employs many thousands of Canadians, and grows more than the rest of the economy. Why doesn’t Canada care?


Jason Andriulaitis checks a connection under a new solar panel installation in Scugog, Ont. on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. Installing solar panels already makes sense for most homeowners in Saskatchewan and Ontario but the abundance of cheap hydroelectricity in Quebec and Manitoba means solar power may never make much economic sense in those provinces. (Frank Gunn/CP)

This week, a barn burner of a report was released into an increasingly flammable world by Clean Energy Canada, a non-profit think tank based out of Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University. The report revealed that Canada’s clean energy sector is growing faster than the rest of the country’s economy. It turns out that the clean energy sector—arguably the unsexy sector that we don’t even notice—grew a full third, percentage-wise, more than the wider economy between 2010 and 2017.

On top of that, the clean energy sector is attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment every year, with investment rising by 70 per cent between 2010 and 2017, and $35 billion pouring in in 2017.

As of 2017, 298,000 Canadians (more than 26,000 in Alberta alone) were employed in Canada’s clean energy sector, which currently represents 3 per cent of Canada’s GDP,  or around $57 billion in 2017. For context, the direct contribution of agriculture, fishing, hunting and forestry to our nation’s economy was 2.1 per cent, and of the hotel and restaurant industry, 2.3 per cent.

In the words of Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, “Put simply,” the green sector is “made up of companies and jobs that help to reduce carbon pollution—whether by creating clean energy, helping move it, reducing energy consumption, or making low-carbon technologies.”

That criteria suggests a novel way of thinking. We’re basically learning a whole new classification system here because the green sector bands together a wide range of companies. Clean transport was the largest green employer, providing 58 per cent of those jobs in 2017. Renewable energy supply currently provides 40 per cent of the green sector’s GDP contribution, and while we might sort these businesses into the “transport sector” and the “energy sector” respectively and not invite them to the same parties, they are nevertheless both in the business of ensuring that Waterworld never becomes culturally relevant. MORE

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Canada’s clean energy sector is big, growing fast—and largely unknown

 

Super green building could take root in Yellowknife

The use of engineered wood in construction makes it easier to achieve carbon negative building. The use of hemp-based engineered wood [see RELATED below]  as a substitute for oak also has positive ecological and economic payoffs.

4-storey building slated for downtown, says Ecology North and Yellowknives Dene First Nation


This is one architectural rendering (edited to remove a logo) of what the Northern Centre for Sustainability being planned for downtown Yellowknife could look like. (Ecology North)

Yellowknife could soon have the greenest building in the country.

That’s according to Ecology North and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. The groups are planning a four-storey building in the city’s downtown that they say would be the first carbon negative building in Canada.

The Northern Centre for Sustainability would incorporate integrated solar panels, water recycling and make use of wood and local materials as much as possible.

The main floor of the building, which could be open for tenants as early as November 2020, is slated to hold a coffee shop and public space; the second floor will house an innovation hub for climate action and the third floor will be offices for Ecology North and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Residential units are planned for the fourth storey, along with a rooftop greenhouse.

The building will showcase and promote the latest low-carbon technologies to demonstrate that more energy efficient construction is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and create jobs, says Will Gagnon, Ecology North’s green building specialist. MORE

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Glencore, the world’s biggest thermal coal exporter, is capping its output over climate concerns

Image result for Glencore, the world's biggest thermal coal exporter, is capping its output over climate concerns

Glencore is the world’s top coal exporter

Glencore says it will not grow its capacity to produce coal beyond current levels around 150 million tons per yer.

The company will instead focus on increasing production of commodities used in electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies.

Analysts say the move will tighten supplies and boost prices, allowing Glencore to keep money flowing from its coal segment even as it caps output. MORE

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