Vancouver hosted the annual CANWEA Conference at the new convention centre downtown the first week of October this year. The event followed the annual Clean Energy BC Conference at the same venue.
More than a hundred companies attended the two events which focus on alternative energy developments in Canada with the emphasis of the second event being wind power in Canada.
The conferences were attended by politicians from all parties, federal, provincial and municipal, as every one wants to be seen as supporting clean power, the environment and jobs.
Several local companies were represented along with wind power heavy weights GE, Vestas and Siemens. Most of the local companies are involved in construction, maintenance and operation of the wind farms but a local wind turbine manufacturing company, Endurance Wind Power was also present.
While BC now has a few wind power projects under construction following the 2008 BC Hydro Power Call, the province lags far behind Ontario and Quebec and in fact only has about 200 megawatts of wind power in operation at present. When all the projects that have been approved and completed in 2014 BC will have just 450 megawatts operational. Ontario will built over 600 megawatts in 2011 alone. CANWEA states that more than 20% of Canada’s electricity could come from wind.
Many of those attending were anxious to get back to Ontario in time to vote in the provincial election as the Conservative leader had said he would severely curtail alternative energy spending and development in that province, if he won the election. Somehow, despite trailing in the polls before the election, Liberal leader Dalton McQuinty managed to hold on to power for another term. This means Ontario will continue to lead the country in the adoption of renewable energy and attract the majority of investment and jobs. So far more than $20 billion is planned or invested in alternative energy in Ontario.
What type of alarms were alternative energy companies sounding at the conference?
The biggest complaint was that Canada has no energy policy.
The result of this lack of direction and policy from the federal government is that individual provinces provide their own policy and incentives which vary from province to province and end up being used as a political football every time there is a provincial election.
How can we expect large companies to invest billions of dollars and create thousands of jobs if they are in danger of be chased out of town and losing their investment every time a politician wants to score a few points and win a few votes by bad mouthing renewable energy with dodgy statistics comparing the current cost of alternative energy with dams or coal plants built decades ago? Instead of looking to the future,the Federal and Alberta Conservative parties are wasting up to $2 billion for expensive discredited CCS technology experiments. England just cancelled their last CCS experiment due to costs.
This lack of leadership, policy and commitment from the federal government results in less investment, research and manufacturing in Canada. We end up with fewer jobs, more expensive energy costs and less made in Canada technology.
It is time the Conservative party woke up, noticed the direction the wind is blowing and initiated policies that will help Canada develop and compete in the renewable energy field before it is too late.