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Green jobs if Canada renews incentives for renewable power

A coalition of environmental groups says Canada could create at least 8000 jobs by if the Federal Government renews incentives for renewable energy.

The Green Budget Coalition includes 21 environmental and conservation groups, and it proposes detailed recommendations before every Federal budget. This year, its three priorities are to re-invest in renewable energy, to invest in freshwater, and to protect ecosystems and biodiversity in the face of climate change.

“2010 is an important time for the government of Canada to increase its support for renewable power, to enable Canada to meet its target of 90% non-emitting electricity by 2020, and to create new economic development opportunities while keeping pace with major growth in the sector both in the USA and overseas,” it explains.

“While renewable energy includes electricity, heat and fuels, this fiscal year is an important time to focus on renewable electricity in order to be prepared for the necessary replacement of many of Canada’s power plants that are reaching the end of their working lives and for potential increased demand from electric and plug-in hybrid cars, while reducing the impact and emissions from the current portfolio of power stations.”

The Federal Government should replace the fully-allocated ecoENERGY for Renewable Power programme with a capital grant programme that includes specific set-asides for northern and remote communities, and establish Green Energy Bonds as a mechanism to ease access to capital and reduce borrowing costs for renewable energy developers, while enabling individual Canadians to directly support the development of renewable electricity.

Use Canada's skills in oil drilling to explore geothermal

It also wants Government to unlock Canada’s potential for geothermal electricity, by developing a national geothermal data and classification system to assess, quantify and characterize geothermal resources.

The average annual cost to boost funding for renewable power to incent 8 GW of new capacity by 2014 would cost C$450 million over four years, it notes. Creation of a C$5 billion bond fund would cost C$100m over 10 years while an assessment of geothermal resources could cost C$5m.

The investment required would be C$551m per year (average) for four years, and C$100m a year for the subsequent 6 years. The benefits would include 8000 new jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance, leveraging C$22bn of private sector investment; C$24m in annual lease payments to rural landowners across Canada, and opportunities for Canadians to invest in the development of clean power projects.

Energy benefits to Canada would include creation of a stable cost energy supply, diversifying the energy supply mix, and providing 5 GW of geothermal power capacity by 2015.

Needed for sustainable energy future

“Immediate investments in renewable energy are part of a longer-term transition towards a sustainable and competitive energy future,” the document explains. “Future investments in clean energy will be needed in renewable heat, transportation, energy efficiency as well as integrated community design, without which Canada will become uncompetitive in the global clean energy market both for production and manufacturing.

“By 2015, all new power plants in Canada should be non-emitting, and overall at least 10% of Canada’s power supply should come from low-impact renewable sources,” it adds.

In 2008, global investment in new renewable energy outpaced investments in nuclear, natural gas and coal electricity combined, attracting US$148bn of investment around the world. The lowest global growth rate for wind power in the past decade has been 21% and, “given the significant investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency in global stimulus packages, this industry is expected to continue to grow.”

Canada could become global leader in renewable energy

“Given its abundant renewable energy resources, Canada has the potential to become a global leader in renewable energy,” the report adds. Although the Federal incentive for green power has been successful in assisting development of new capacity, “Canada has the ability and the need to go much further.

“On a per-capita basis, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 invested almost 14 times as much in renewable energy as Canada’s 2009 budget,” it adds. “Canada urgently needs to make significant investments in renewable energy to become an attractive market and to prevent investment from being attracted elsewhere, particularly to the United States.”

“Realistic minimum national renewable energy goals are 10% of Canadian demand by 2015 (19 GW) and 20% by 2020 (40 GW), it concludes. “Continued federal support for renewable power is crucial to ensure Canada becomes a leading player in the rapidly expanding global marketplace for clean, renewable power.”

Green Budget Coalition

Members of the Coalition include Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Environmental Defence, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Pollution Probe, Sierra Club and WWF, among others.

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Energy efficiency  •  Energy infrastructure  •  Geothermal  •  Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Policy, investment and markets  •  Solar electricity  •  Wind power