The Green Economy Review. Volume 14. February, 2012

The Green Economy Review: Insight into Green Job Developments Worldwide

Volume 14. February, 2012
 
 
In this issue:
 
 
 
Renewable Energy Growth: Beginning the Transformation
 
A recent report from the OECD and IEA, the Green Growth Studies: Energy, argues that a “fundamental transformation is required in the way we produce, deliver and consume energy” if we hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change while ensuring a secure energy supply for the world’s increasingly urban population.  
 
The good news is that that transformation appears to be getting underway. Some indications:
Canada is part of this transformation as well.
  • While Ontario’s Feed in Tariff is under review, news continues to surface of communities benefiting from the province’s renewable energy program. For example, late last year, Ontario-based solar PV manufacturer Eclipsall announced that their panels were chosen for a project in Kapuskasing and a community co-operative began their hunt for a suitable site for a solar installation in Sudbury.  Faith groups are benefiting from the feed-in tariff as well, such as Trinity United Church in Cobourg, where over 50 solar panels were recently installed. A community hall near Sault Ste Marie has also found new life, thanks to plans to install solar panels on the roof and generate income through the feed-in tariff.
  • Nova Scotia’s renewable energy program is also moving ahead, driven by their community feed-in tariff and target to generate 25 per cent of its power from renewables by 2015, and 40 per cent by 2020.
 
 
Solar energy will, of course, play a huge role in this transformation.
  • In recent years, the costs of solar have come down dramatically, and a study out of Queen's University found that the costs of solar are much lower that widely believed and the technology is close to parity with traditional energy sources in many markets.
  • Solar installations are picking up in the Middle East as well. Recent announcements include an agreement between Canadian Solar and Al Fahad Group to build a massive solar farm in Abu Dhabi and the announcement of a $2 billon solar project in the Arab state of Oman.
 
 
Wind Generation is also growing rapidly.
 
Here at home:
  • Canada installed 1,400 megawatts of wind capacity in 2011, more than double that installed in 2010. In total, Canada’s installed wind capacity is now 5,400 megawatts, enough to power 1.5 million homes. The past year’s installations represent almost $3.5 billion in investment as well as 13,500 jobs.
  • The IESO reported that Ontario produced a record 3.9 TWh of wind energy in 2011.
  • And Windstream Energy announced that they had signed an agreement with Siemens Canada Limited, to supply up to 130 turbines for its 300 MW offshore wind power project on Lake Ontario. Windstream also announced a partnership with Hamilton firms and the port authority. All told, Windstream’s project is estimated to lead to 1,900 jobs if it goes forward.
Elsewhere:
  • And wind energy leaders, environmentalists and policy makers have formed a coalition in Pennsylvania to encourage residents to buy locally manufactured wind mills.
 
 
Electric Vehicles Becoming More Mainstream 
 
Transportation is responsible for nearly a third of green house gas emissions and, as such, there is considerable interest in electrifying transit to increase efficiency and in order to make use of renewable sources of energy.  Recent announcements include:
  • Mississauga Ontario battery maker, Electrovaya, announced financial results for 2011, which showed revenues were up over 100 per cent from the year prior, in part thanks to their sales in to the EV market.
  • A recent report found that California captured $467 million, or 69 per cent, of global investment in electric vehicles.
  • The Chinese government is also employing a strategy to help accelerate the adoption of EVs in that country.
  • Michigan utility, Consumers Energy, reported that the state’s electricity grid is capable of handling electric vehicles once they become more common.
 
 
Financing the Transformation
 
Despite a gloomy economic outlook and pervasive austerity measures, the green economy received record levels of investment in 2011. 
  • $260 billion was invested in clean energy in 2011, up 5 percent from the previous year.
  • Reuters also reported that clean energy investment in the U.K. hit $3.9 billion in 2011 and according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, that investment could yield some 12,000 jobs.
Governments and utilities are making record investments. Some notable examples:
Private firms and individuals are increasing their renewable energy nd other green economy holdings as well. For example:
While this is good news, the amount of investment required to bring about the transformation called for by the IEA will continue to be a challenge, provoking some novel financing models and tools. For example: 
  • An article in Forbes makes the case for a green bank to provide low-interest capital to green energy projects.
  • The Brookings Institution released a paper which concluded that although Federal action on climate change is lacking in the U.S., a number of states are making use of Clean Energy Funds to accelerate renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and driving green economic development.
 
 
Other Developments:
 
As always, there were a number of developments that are not readily categorized, including:
  • A recent report found that Massachusetts’ cap and trade program is giving the local economy a critical boost.
  • Ski resorts are increasingly using green energy in their operations.
  • A report from the Chinese government found that climate change threatens the country’s future prosperity, citing possible impacts to crop yields, reduced fresh water and increased incidence of droughts and floods.
  • In a similar vein, the Bank of England was asked to examine how climate change could impact the country’s financial system and prospects for long-term economic growth. 
  • The World Resources Forum published a report, titled “Shaping the Future of our Natural Resources - Towards a Green Economy,” which argues for a green economy, sustainable consumption and production, technology transfer, and stronger international governance structures for resource efficiency.
  • Recent data suggests that the cost of cutting carbon emissions by 30 per cent in the EU are much less than previously thought.
  • A study out of Chicago predicted that LED lights will capture more than half of the world’s demand for new lighting over the next decade.
  • Energy efficiency retrofits are getting a boost in the US thanks to an estimated $4 billion commitment to upgrade public and private buildings, spearheaded by President Obama.
 
 
International Developments:
 
Countries around the globe continue to green their economies. Recent announcements include:
  • Taiwan announced plans to accelerate the promotion of their “million-sunshine-roof plan” which aims for an additional 200 megawatts of solar power capacity in 2012.
  • The United Arab Emirates launched an initiative to build “A green economy for sustainable development,” in a bid to become a hub for green technologies. Perhaps to help with this, the UAE is reportedly planning to open their energy market to boost private sector involvement and bolster growth in renewable energy.
  • Experts in India project that the number of green jobs will grow by up to 60% by 2012.