Clean Tech investment in Canada held back by a “fossil fuel comfort zone” and lack of financial disclosure

Canadian cleantech startups get ready for a breakout year”  appeared in the Globe and Mail on January 3, 2018 citing a 2017 report by Cleantech Group, which ranked Canada  “fourth in the world as a clean-technology innovator – and tops among Group of Twenty countries – up from seventh place in 2014.” Then on January 24, the San Francisco-based company Cleantech Group  released its ninth annual Global Cleantech 100 list for 2018 ; the List includes 13 Canadian companies, and the full Report is here (free; registration required).   Sure enough, Canada has improved its showing.  And on January 18, the Government of Canada announced that the federal government  will invest $700 million over the next five years  through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) “ to grow Canada’s clean technology industry, protect the environment and create jobs “, as part of its larger Investment and Skills funding.  The same press release also announced the launch of the Clean Growth Hub, the government’s “focal point for clean technology”, which will focus on supporting companies and projects that produce clean technology, as well as coordinate existing programs and track results.

Yet in reaction to the government’s announcement,  the president of Analytica Advisors, which publishes an annual review of Canadian clean tech, had this to say in the National Post : “A $700-million investment to help clean technology firms expand and develop new products won’t turn Canada’s clean-tech industry into the “trillion dollar opportunity” the government keeps touting until we get out of our fossil-fuel comfort zone”.  She also co-authored an OpEd in the Globe and Mail, “Canada’s financial sector is missing in action on climate change” (Jan. 23)   where she berates the Canadian financial community for sitting on the sidelines amidst international initiatives for more climate-risk disclosure so that those risks can be priced into investment decisions.   For an update on the Canadian scene regarding this issue, see “Modernizing financial regulation to address climate-related risks” by Keith Stewart,  in Policy Options (Feb. 2).

 

Clean Tech Investments in Canada

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) began its rollout of announcements of recipients from the SDTC Tech Fund in February in Southwest Ontario and in Quebec on February 16. Of the $25 million invested in Quebec, almost half was directed to Nemaska Lithium Inc., for a pilot demonstration project aimed at lowering costs associated with electric vehicle use. On February 20, seven clean technology projects in Ontario received over $26.8 million and on March 4, similar investments in Alberta were announced. In Alberta, with the top three recipients are projects for cleaner technologies for oil sands. It was B.C.’s turn on March 16, when a further $27.3 million was distributed for 10 projects. Each press release names the recipient companies and summarizes their technologies.

Growth of Canada’s Clean Tech Sector

The fourth annual Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report by private consulting company Analytica Advisors was released on March 6 in Ottawa, stating that the clean-tech industry is “coming of age”. According to the report, the industry is comprised of over 700 Canadian companies which in 2012 generated $5.8 billion in exports, spent $1 billion in research and development, and created 41,100 new jobs across Canada. Twenty percent of the workforce in the sector is 30 years old and under. The survey authors predict that, at current growth rates, “this will become a $28 billion industry by 2022, employing over 75,000”. The clean tech industry has benefited from government investment of $598 million in 246 projects through the Sustainable Technology Development Fund and the NextGen Biofuels Fund, both administered by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

LINKS

Press release re Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report is at: http://analytica-advisors.com/sites/default/files/2014%20Canadian%20Clean%20Technology%20Industry%20Report%20Analytica%20Press%20Release%20March%206th%202014%20SHORT_EN_Final.pdf.

The Table of Contents is at: http://analytica-advisors.com/sites/default/files/CTIR_TOC_2014.pdf, indicating the level of detail of the survey, but the full report is available only for sale at $2,500.

Sustainable Technology Development Canada website is at: http://www.sdtc.ca/index.php?page=alias-3&hl=en_CA (English), and http://www.sdtc.ca/index.php?page=home&hl=fr_CA (French); their Knowledge Centre has an archive of reports on the sector.