Welcome to Blue Green Canada's Green Economy Review, our monthly roundup of green economic developments across the globe. If you are a new subscriber, you can find past issues here.
In this issue:
Ontario’s Feed in Tariff and domestic content requirements continue to attract manufacturers to the province. Last month:
- Siliken opened its solar module manufacturing plant in Windsor.
- KACO New Energy opened their solar inverter manufacturing facility in London.
- Flextronics began inverter production in Newmarket.
- Sustainable Energy Technologies Ltd and Eclipsall Energy Corporation announced a partnership to design, package and market solar power "kits" to customers in Ontario and other North American Markets. Eclipsall also announced a financing program for Ontario solar projects.
- Conergy Canada announced that they will begin offering a photovoltaic module that meets 15% domestic content for MicroFIT projects and 13% domestic content for FIT projects under Ontario’s Green Energy Act.
- Morgan Solar secured $16.5 million in funding, which it will be used to establish a new manufacturing facility in San Diego, California, and ramp up its existing manufacturing and R&D footprint in Ontario.
- Construction is well underway at the Siemens windmill blade plant in Tillsonburg.
- Magnum Pv and Schmid Technology Systems announced a partnership to establish a 72 MW solar manufacturing line in Ontario.
- Vestas reported that its wind turbine towers will be manufactured by CS Wind at their facility in Windsor. The steel will be sourced from Essar Steel Algoma, located in Sault Ste. Marie.
- Centrosolar Canada announced that their Ontario-made photovoltaic modules are now available.
- And it was announced that Sanmina-SCI will manufacture commercial-scale solar inverters in Ottawa.
Ontario’s FIT program received international attention last month. Early in May, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, Achim Steiner, was in Toronto where he applauded Ontario’s embrace of clean energy and said that in other countries, similar programs have helped them shift their economies to a “new playing field.”
The New York Times took notice of Ontario’s program after news that the Toronto District School Board would install solar panels on their rooftops to finance repairs. And the TDSB isn’t the only school board taking advantage of the program. Two schools in Grimsby will also be installing solar panels, as are others elsewhere. These announcements from the schools are just a couple examples of the 700 projects approved last month.
A number of other green economy developments made news last month. Among them:
- Los Angeles-based Rentech Inc. announced plans to build a $500 million renewable jet fuel refinery in Sault St. Marie, which would create up to 400 jobs.
- Also in the Sault, St. Marys Paper Corporation is diversifying their operations with a proposed multi-million-dollar co-generation facility.
- Electric buses are going to be assembled in Windsor.
- Anaergia Inc announced they would go ahead with a facility to produce biogas equipment in Ontario, which will convert waste such as sewage sludge and farm waste into energy. The facility is expected to employ 200 people.
- The University of Windsor was awarded a contract to establish North America’s first centre for the study of wind turbine technology and renewable energy.
- In Ontario, Environmental Defence released a report which made the case for reusable wine bottles as part of the Province’s push to green the economy.
- Almost 7 in 10 British Columbians (71%) say that they are willing to pay more to see green energy developed, and 85% support using tax dollars to encourage more green energy
- The vice-president of Environmental Careers Canada, the environmental sector council, says the jobs outlook for green industries is very positive, so much so that he believes that within five years the environment sector will experience a significant supply deficit of workers.
Despite a lack of national climate change legislation, the U.S. is making progress towards a green economy. Last month, legislation to support renewable energy was passed in Vermont and Rhode Island, and a tri-partisan 10 Million Solar Roofs Bill was introduced at the National level.
Renewable energy manufacturing is also growing in the U.S. A new solar manufacturing plant opened in Las Vegas last month, Suntech Solar in Arizona added a third shift, a Vermont manufacturer began exporting wind turbines to Italy, and Siemens shipped 22 wind turbine nacelles and hubs from its new assembly facility in Kansas to a site in Washington.
Recent reports say that solar is among the fastest growing industries in the U.S. and if current trends continue, the U.S. is on pace to become world’s largest solar market. Wind power manufacturing and installations are also growing rapidly. Of note, Ohio will be the first to install offshore wind in the Great Lakes, as they recently approved a plan to erect turbines in Lake Erie with an eye to spurring a local manufacturing industry.
The OECD published a report on “green growth” in which they argued that “governments must look to the green economy to seize opportunities and new sources of growth and jobs.”
The U.K.’s Carbon Trust put out a report which found that total global market for wave and tidal energy could be worth up to £40bn per annum by 2050. The Carbon Trust believes the U.K. could capture a significant share of this and generate 68,000 jobs in the process.
UNEP released a report last month that said the metal recycling rates are “disarmingly low," and greater recycling rates are vital to a green economy, yielding greater efficiency and significant gains in employment.
Silicon recycling firm SiC Processing AG is expanding their operations in response to growing demand for their proprietary process for recovering and reusing silicon carbide and glycol while making solar panels and wafers.
Reports out of the U.K. say 10,000 jobs could be created through the reuse of waste electronics, thanks to legislation being rolled out across the E.U.
The Bank of America announced a new $55 million program to encourage energy efficiency improvements in buildings in the U.S. And here in Canada, the Columbia Institute released a report titled “This Green House” which argues that modest investment in energy efficiency for homes would save Canadians money, bring about significant reductions in GHG emissions and create tens of thousands of jobs.
The green economy and renewable energy continue to gain ground internationally. Perhaps the biggest news last month comes out of the U.K., where Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne announced that Britain will halve its greenhouse gas output by 2025 from 1990 levels. Details were also released about the U.K.’s Green Investment Bank which is expected to inject £15bn into the green economy within four years. Britain’s push to build out renewable energy will be aided by the opening of a new wind turbine tower factory which is reportedly capable of meeting half the U.K.'s demand.
Other notable announcements include:
- Germany’s first off-shore windfarm officially opened.
- Norway is spearheading an initiative to promote access to energy and low-carbon development in developing nations
- Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced plans to increase the share of green energy to 20% of total power supply by the early 2020s.
- Fiji is considering adopting a Green Economy Policy
- Malaysia is launching a plan to build a green economy
- And Ecuador adopted a system of feed-in tariffs for the development of renewable energy.