Welcome to Blue Green Canada's Green Economy Review, our monthly round-up of green economic developments across the globe.
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In this issue:
Ontario’s Green Energy Act continues to attract manufacturing to the province. Last month:
- Arise Technologies announced that they would go ahead with plans to build a silicon furnace in Kitchener to produce high-quality silicon for the solar energy market in Ontario.
- Applied Energy Technologies (AET) announced they will be manufacturing solar mounting system in Ontario.
- Siemens Canada officially began production of solar cells at their Burlington plant.
Renewable Energy continues to grow rapidly here in North America and across the globe.
Demand for solar products is strong in Ontario as municipalities, businesses, schools and farmers begin installing solar panels and participating in the FIT. Demand for wind is expected to be strong too, and a recent report estimates that if the Ontario Government sticks with the Green Energy Act and Long Term Energy Plan, the wind energy industry will bring in $16B of private investment and create 80,000 person years of employment.
Nova Scotia is fueling demand for renewable energy products thanks to their commitment to generate 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2015, up from the current level of 13%. The cornerstone of N.S.’s plan is their Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) program, which pays favourable rates to RE projects that are at least 51% owned by community groups including municipalities, universities, First Nations, co-ops and Community Economic Development Investment Funds (CEDIFs).
Demand for Solar PV continues to fuel job growth in Germany, and the industry now employs over 100,000 people. Demand is expected to continue to be strong thanks to, among other things, Germany’s ambitious RE goals and Italy's feed-in tariff, revised this month, which includes a Made in Europe clause. In addition to the FIT, Italy’s demand was further buoyed after a recent referendum that saw more than 94% of voters oppose the government's plans to resume nuclear power generation.
Solar panels and companies are on also the rise in the UK.
In related news:
- Google released a report on renewable energy which argued that clean energy can be a major source of jobs and growth in the U.S., and waiting would be costly, leaving trillions of dollars on the table.
- A poll commissioned by wind turbine manufacturer, Vestas, found that consumers around the world overwhelmingly support the rollout of renewable energy.
- The Japanese government is contemplating the adoption of a tariff on power from solar panels to lure investors.
- All this demand is good for manufacturers, of course, and solar panel makers are reporting strong growth and receiving positive assessments from market analysts.
Not surprisingly, the growth in renewable energy is complemented by growth in employment and in other similar markets.
According to a new ranking of the fastest hiring industries by IBISWorld, Green industries are hiring at a rate well above more traditional industries, and despite the turbulent economy, the green jobs market is flourishing. Some examples:
- The green economy is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the economy in Switzerland.
- The clean technology sector is a growing quickly in the British Columbia according to a new report from KPMG, and BC’s green economy reportedly creates more jobs than Alberta’s tar sands.
- And the low-carbon market in India is estimated to grow by up to $135 billion in a next decade.
To ready the labour market for these new careers, green jobs training continues to gain attention, especially in the U.S. where both the Department of Labor and Department of Energy are funding training programs.
Last month, training programs were announced in:
Detroit Michigan, San Antonio Texas, San Bernardino and Sacramento California, a number of cities in Connecticut, Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania communities, Arkansas, Indiana, Seattle, Maryland and Boston.
In addition, The US Department of Labor awarded $5.5 million to the Laborers International Union of North America for green jobs training, and a bill was passed in Albany, NY, to create a Green Jobs Workforce Subcommittee which will conduct market data analysis to help with the growth of green businesses.
The green economy appears to be attracting considerable capital as the demand continues to be strong. Last month:
- The U.S. DOE offered a conditional commitment for a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the Mojave Solar Project, in California. The DOE also launched a $1.4 billion loan guarantee project to build 733 megawatts worth of solar panels, which will be installed on 750 rooftops and create more than 1,000 green jobs over a four-year installation period.
- The state of New York awarded $191 million in grants to 17 renewable energy projects to be built in counties across the state.
- Standard Bank, Africa's largest lender, announced plans to commit more than 10 billion rand ($1.5B) to green energy projects in South Africa.
- The African Development Bank will make available $365 million to South Africa’s state-owned energy company, Eskom Holdings Ltd., to help finance solar and wind projects.
- Poland will receive a €750 million loan from the World Bank to support energy conservation and renewable energy development.
- The U.K. government announced plans to invest in an offshore renewable energy technology and innovation centre intended to help businesses commercialize wind, wave and tidal power.
- In an effort to bring more rooftop solar panels to homes across the country, Google and SolarCity have invested $280 million to help fund residential solar panels. Google also invested $102 million in a wind farm under construction in Southern California.
- The South Korean Government pledged $16 million (U.S.) for the development of the power and energy sector. The Export-Import Bank Of Korea (KEXIM) also announced plans to raise the ratio of its lending to green energy and resource development projects.
- Two Chinese banks will provide as much as $10 billion to a group of three Chinese makers of solar equipment to build solar energy projects in Europe.
- A U.S. green energy financier has raised $200 million to build solar farms
Energy Efficiency (EE) Retrofits also received a fair bit of attention of the past month.
Here in Canada, the Columbia Institute released a report which showed that EE investments more than pay for themselves, but financing mechanisms need to be put in place to help homeowners overcome the initial costs. Coincidentally, this type of financing will soon be rolled out in Vancouver, where the city announced a partnership with credit-union Vancity to provide low interest, long-term financing to homeowners who would like to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes.
In a similar vein, an EE financing bill was passed in New York State last month to allow “on-bill financing,” one of the Columbia Institute’s preferred funding mechanisms.
Pennsylvania is also looking at passing an EE financing bill, and California, the first state pass such a bill, has recently further incentivized EE retrofits with a series of rebates and other incentives. EE upgrades are getting a boost across the U.S. in part due to the Federal Government’s “ Better Buildings Initiative” which is expected to create some 114,000 jobs nation-wide.
Retrofits are also receiving attention outside of North America. Of note, London mayor Boris Johnson recently announced a massive drive for retrofitting public buildings in the city.
And in addition to retrofits, jurisdictions are increasingly making changes to the building code to ensure that our future housing stock won’t be in need of retrofits, as Vancouver and other B.C. municipalities did last month by requiring new buildings be built solar-ready.
Last month also saw a number of other green economic announcements and developments. Among the notable:
- Kingston based plastics recycler, Switchable Solutions, announced they will be building a recycling plant in Mississauga capable of recycling approximately two million kgs per year of post-consumer plastic materials.
- George Soros's Quantum Strategic Partners is leading a $25 million investment round into a start-up that aims to cut electricity waste.
- The FIFA World Cup is "going green" by extending its sponsorship with solar panel manufacturer, Yingli Green Energy.
- Calabogie MotorSports will be installing solar panels on their 13,000 square foot garage.
- Toyota announced plans to open a solar field to help power one of their factories.
- Solar panels will be installed on a three-kilometer-long tunnel in Belgium built to shelter trains from falling trees. The electricity produced will be used to power a high speed train which runs from Paris to Amsterdam.
- Google has reportedly tasked an R&D team with making renewable energy cost competitive with fossil fuels.
- Ford Motor Company is adding jobs as it plans to triple its electric vehicle capacity.
- Canada Lithium Corp. (CLQ) said lithium demand may outstrip global supply by 2015 due to Chinese demand for electric-car batteries that contain the metal.
- Russia plans to develop biogas facilities to provide fuel and power in rural regions.
- Plans for more tidal energy turbines are going ahead in Maine.
- The Blue Green Alliance released a report which argued for investment in rail to create jobs and fuel the economy.
- An interactive Solar Map that allows users to calculate solar energy potential for any NYC building has been made available to the public.
- A state government in Germany is looking into repurposing abandoned coal mines as pumped storage for wind power. A similar plan for pumped storage is being investigated at an abandoned Iron Mine in Marmora Ontario.
The green economy continues to grow in countries across the globe. Reports from last month include:
- Uzbekistan is looking to green their economy.
- China is hoping to cooperate with the U.K. to boost the green economy and pursue sustainable development.
- Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, urges the use of more green energy.
- Indians narrowly prioritise environmental protection over economic growth, according to a recent poll.
- The Thai government is preparing to launch the second phase of the green industry development project.
- Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed an alliance with Japan to develop renewable energy, overcome energy scarcity, and deal with the impacts of climate change.
- South Korea continues its efforts to build a green economy. By 2030, they hope to capture 18 percent of the global market in renewable energy and create 1.5 million jobs in the process.
- The European Commission called for the adoption of global green economy road map to guarantee commitment to the Green Economy following upcoming sustainable development conference in 2012, known as Rio+20.
- It was reported that Australia may use some of the revenue from its carbon pricing policy to fund renewables development.
- Iran inaugurated its first wind/solar plant.