Clean Technology CEOs in BC insist that Canada is falling behind in the race to clean energy – they’re asking the government for nearly 3 billion dollars in cash and guarantees – plus tax credits to level the playing field with petroleum.
A letter from the BC Cleantech CEO Alliance to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says “Canada’s commitments at COP21 (the Paris climate change conference, which ran from November 30 – December 11, 2015), along with the pledges (Trudeau and his cabinet) have made to support clean technology and innovation, have reinvigorated global interest in Canada’s clean tech industry.” It notes that the global market has grown to more than a trillion dollars, and that “Cleantech is unequivocally a pillar of the Canadian economy.”
However, the letter complains that Canada is losing global market share to competition from the US, China, Germany, and other countries that are investing billions to compete, and points out that since 2008, Canada’s share has fallen from 14th to 19th in terms of total market share. A representative of the group recently told CBC “spending in Canada actually declined by about half.” Another CBC article, posted April 19th, notes that according to the most recent figures, “Canada’s clean tech revenues contracted slightly after six consecutive years of growth.”
A billion in loan guarantees
The 51 BC CEOs are asking for the Canadian Government to up the ante – a lot. They’re recommending that the government establish a billion dollar clean tech loan guarantee program. They note that clean tech solutions often require large amounts of debt to get from concept to market, and that right now there is a gap in available financing. They say the private sector should manage such a program, and cover a range of projects from less than five million to over 50 million dollars.
They also want to “Allocate $500 million to establish Canada as a powerhouse of clean tech venture capital” The letter asserts that a program of this scale could support 15-20 new and existing clean tech venture capital funds, supporting the growth of several hundred new clean tech companies. They believe this would also generate thousands of high-quality jobs. The group is also asking for one and a quarter billion dollars for Sustainable Development Technology Canada , an independent organization which funds Canadian clean tech projects and coaches the companies that lead them as they move to market.
Tax credits just like oil & gas
The CEOs also want to “Level the playing field of tax credits to unlock billions in cleantech investment.” The group notes that Canada’s mining and oil & gas industries get billions in investment because of federal and provincial tax credits. The CEOs’ letter says it’s time to make these same tax credits available to the clean tech industry, and it’s asking for them to be applicable to both research and development and project deployment.
Challenge or opportunity?
At a meeting with provincial premiers in Vancouver last month, the prime minister “announced more than 125 million dollars for two new clean tech funds to spur faster industry growth,” but that’s small compared to what the BC CEOs are asking for. In his speech, Trudeau acknowledged that Canada is falling behind. But a Vancouver Sun article at the end of the “Globe clean tech conference” pointed out that the meeting “overcame some deep divisions over carbon pricing to find a workable solution that satisfied all the parties”. It says there’s a promise of a pan-Canadian policy plan for early 2017. The world will be watching.
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