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A Renewable Energy Powerhouse

[dropcaps] C [/dropcaps]anada benefits from a wealth of renewable energy riches. The country is endowed with vast and varied natural resources including massive supplies of water, solar, wind and biomass – the raw materials to produce green energy. Canada has one-fifth of the world’s fresh water and is surrounded by three oceans, providing nearly endless water resources. Its long coast lines and huge land mass give it some of the best wind resources on the planet. The land of the midnight sun is a natural for solar power. And forests cover 35% of Canada’s land mass, the largest forested area on earth, providing a steady supply of feedstock for bio-energy.

Canada has the added advantages of excellent infrastructure, an integrated transportation network, advanced manufacturing expertise, a highly-skilled workforce and low labour costs. Progressive regulatory systems and long-term ‘green’ government policies, along with generous R&D and tax incentives, make investing in the renewable energy industry a breeze. The sector is poised for spectacular growth, creating unparalleled opportunities for strategic partnerships and investment to develop and commercialize competitive technologies, manufacture products or provide services to this fast-growing industry.

Look what Canada has to offer:

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  • The world’s biggest producer of hydropower, generating 353 TWh/year, and exports 60% of its electricity
  • Access to more biomass resources, per capita, than any other country in the world
  • Canada’s wind energy sector grew at an unprecedented rate of 51% between 2000 and 2006
  • World leader in solar air collector development and commercialization
  • Most highly educated population on the face of the earth: 150 colleges and universities educate 1.5 million students annually
  • Leading G7 countries with the lowest overall business costs


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Sector strengths


Wind energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source in Canada – and the best is yet to come for this sector. In 2008, Canada became the 12th country in the world to surpass the 2,000 MW mark for installed wind energy capacity – ending the year with 2,369 MW. Canada’s wind farms now produce enough power to meet approximately one per cent of Canada’s electricity demand. It is expected that 2009 will see more wind energy capacity installed in Canada than in 2008. In fact, a minimum of 650 MW should be installed in 2009 – moving Canada past the 3,000 MW mark for installed capacity. The Canadian Wind Energy Association forecasts that if Provincial government targets and objectives in Canada are met, could add up to a minimum of 12,000 MW to be commissioned by 2016. Approximately 430 companies are active in Canada’s wind energy sector, with a workforce that has grown from less than 1,000 in 2004, to over 4,000 today. The Canadian wind energy industry consists of retailers, distributors, wind turbine component manufacturers and of developers backed by large energy firms, industrial corporations and income funds that bring with them financial resources and commercial credibility. The rapid growth of Canada’s wind energy industry has resulted in a growing number of manufacturing firms entering the market. Plans to close 7,000 MW coal generation plants, as well as federal and provincial support for renewable energy generation, provide major opportunities for sector growth. By 2012, investments in Canadian content are forecast to reach C$1.8B annually. By 2013, employment in the Canadian wind energy industry is projected to reach 13,000 high-quality jobs in manufacturing, installation and maintenance, while annual revenues are predicted to be $CDN 3,904 billion.


Solar power is a viable option in Canada, thanks to its generally clear skies. Major long term commitments for clean power purchases in several provinces are spurring the domestic development of this rapidly-growing sector. Canadian firms have also secured a significant share of the international market with a variety of novel technologies, products and services. As of 2007, there were an estimated 544,000 m2 of solar collectors operating in Canada – primarily unglazed plastic collectors for pool heating (71%) and unglazed perforated solar air collectors for commercial building air heating (26%), delivering about 627,000 GJ of energy and displacing 38,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. There are over 150 solar energy organizations (sales companies, wholesalers, product manufacturers, private consultants, systems installers and industry associations) driving the PV market in Canada. The Canadian PV manufacturing sector has grown significantly in the last five years to serve both the domestic and export markets. There was a small increase in manufacturing employment from 627 in 2005 to 645 in 2006. The industry covers the entire supply chain from raw materials to finished products, including system integration and production equipment. Average annual market growth for PV technologies has been over 20% for more than a decade. The Canadian solar water heating sector includes suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers of solar collectors and exchangers, and pumps, reservoirs, and regulators. Canadian technologies for solar air heating are applied around the world to assist with drying crops. Canadian know-how has made it possible for agricultural producers in several South American and Asian countries to turn to more ecological and sustainable drying techniques.


This renewable energy source, produced from Canada’s abundant biomass resources, currently accounts for approximately 6% of Canada’s total energy supply. Canadian bioenergy production includes combustion, pyrolysis, gasification, anaerobic digestion, landfill biogas utilization, fermentation and catalytic hydrotreating of biomass oils. Canada’s large reserves of agricultural and forestry biomass resources together with significant quantities of waste organic materials, coupled with Canadian companies developing leading edge conversion technologies, are expected to provide Canada with a unique opportunity to substantially benefit from the emerging bioeconomy. Developments in next generation technologies are particularly expected to position Canada as a responsible and innovative global leader in both the sustainable and renewable development of bioenergy / biochemicals as well as transition Canada towards a more diversified energy supply.


With 475 hydropower plants, this sector is the oldest and best-established green industry in Canada. Hydro power accounts for 97% of Canada’s renewable electricity generation and nearly 13% of the global production of hydropower. Canada is a world leader in hydropower production, with an installed capacity of over 70,858 megawatts (MW), and an annual average production of 350 terawatt-hour (TWh). Another 118,000 MW of hydropower – twice the amount currently in operation – could technically still be developed. The industry generates the fewest greenhouse gases – 60 times less than coal-fired power plants and 18-30 times less than natural gas power plants – of all major electricity sources and produces no other air pollutants. Coupled with these advantages, hydropower’s storage capacity makes it the best source to support the development of renewables such as wind and solar power. Another hydropower offshoot is small hydroelectric plants for remote, off-grid locations.

Ocean energy

Bordered by three oceans, Canada is exceptionally rich in tidal current and wave energy resources. Although most ocean energy technologies are not yet commercially viable, several demonstration projects are providing a glimpse into their environmental benefits for society and profit potential for investors. Canada became active in the ocean energy field when it constructed the 20 MW tidal energy plant at Annapolis Royal, on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. The plant, one of the first of its kind, has been in operation since 1984 and is the only one of its kind in North America. Canada strives to be a world leader in ocean energy and is fast becoming a recognized expert in areas including: marine fabrication and marine operations; horizontal and vertical axis turbines to harnessing currents and tides; operation of tidal generation stations; manned and unmanned specialized remote tooling systems for subsea work; modular and scalable remote off-grid, utility-scale, offshore and near-shore wave generators; wave technology test and simulation facilities at the Institute for Ocean Technology and the Canadian Hydraulics Centre; wave and tidal energy resource assessment; wave energy-driven desalinization technology; and, numerical modeling, wave measurement and analysis, and flow measurement.

Incentives for Investment

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  • A 50% Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for Clean Energy Generation
  • The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program helps to underwrite research and development activities that will lead to new, improved, or technologically advanced products or processes
  • ecoENERGY for Renewable Power – A $1.48B investment to increase Canada’s supply of clean electricity from renewable sources such as wind, biomass, low-impact hydro, geothermal, solar photovoltaic and ocean energy
  • ecoEnergy Technology Initiative – A $230M investment in clean energy S&T that will fund research, development and demonstration to support the development of next- generation energy technologies needed to break through to emissions-free fossil fuel production, as well as energy from other clean sources, such as renewable and bioenergy.