Clean Air Renewable Energy Coalition Launched in Canada

By Bill Eggertson

CALGARY, Alberta, Canada, January 5, 2001 (ENS) - A coalition of corporations, environmental groups, and municipal organizations has been formed to accelerate development of Canada's renewable energy industry.

Suncor Energy Inc. and the Pembina Institute for Appropriate Development are corporate founding partners in the Clean Air Renewable Energy (CARE) Coalition.

The coalition includes the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the association for municipal governments. The federation is committed to reducing emissions among its members which represent 61 percent of the population in rural and urban centers.


Cowley Ridge wind farm in Alberta, the first commercial windplant in Canada, was completed in 1994. (Photo courtesy Canadian Hydro Developers, Inc.
Coalition supporters include environmental groups Friends of the Earth, Pollution Probe, the Toronto Environmental Alliance, and a number of energy firms that recognize the business potential of renewable energy, such as BC Hydro, BP Canada Energy, Enbridge, Shell, Toronto Hydro, TransAlta and Westcoast Energy.

The coalition is urging the federal government to implement two mechanisms that would diversify energy supply, clean Canada's air, improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change.

Specifically, the coalition is seeking a consumer green energy credit. CARE representatives say the credit would increase demand for green power and broaden the Canadian Renewable & Conservation Expense or Investment Tax Credit treatments for new capital spending to support the supply of green power.

"Aggressive implementation of low impact energy technologies is an essential component of any credible national program to address air pollution and climate change," says David Pollack, executive director of the Pembina Institute.

The Canadian government’s own action plan on climate change estimates that 40 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions for the energy sector could be eliminated by 2012 if the two initiatives were implemented as government policy.

Low impact renewable energy technologies are less used in Canada than in most other industrialized countries. Initiatives promoted by the coalition are designed to increase demand for green power from residential and commercial consumers of power, as well as government departments. These mechanisms could address the relative costs of supply compared to conventional energy production.


Solar swimming pool heating system in British Columbia, Canada (Photo courtesy Powermat)
In 1996, Canada obtained 0.02 percent of its electricity from green power sources, the group estimates. This does not include the significant hydroelectric generation in Canada, nor its use of biomass. Nor does the estimate include the energy used for space conditioning.

By contrast, Royal Dutch Shell predicts that renewable energies could provide 50 percent of the world's energy needs by 2050.

Denmark, Germany and the United States each produce between 15 and 30 times more electricity from wind turbines than Canada currently generates. CARE says that Canada’s reluctance to develop or install renewable energy technologies has serious economic and broader implications.

"We cannot leave the risk and costs of innovation in renewables to other countries or we will not harvest the rewards of cleaner air, achievement of international greenhouse gas commitments, regional development, more diversified energy sources and international competitiveness," says Rick George, president and CEO of Suncor.

Under new definitions to be regulated by Environment Canada, solar thermal, solar photovoltaic, wind power, geothermal, run-of-river and micro-hydro technologies and other low impact renewables will be eligible as renewable energies.