Spending on clean energy projects in Canada fell 16 percent in 2015 compared with the record investments of the prior year and a renewed push to cut emissions may not lead to a rebound until 2018, an advocacy group said on Thursday.
Companies and governments spent C$10 billion ($7.7 billion) on wind, solar, hydro, biomass and biogas projects in Canada last year, Clean Energy Canada said in a report, while total clean energy capacity rose 4 percent to just under 100 gigawatts.
More than half of the renewable investment was made in Ontario, which aims to have built 20 gigawatts of renewable power capacity by 2025, while a string of new wind projects in Quebec added to substantial existing hydro capacity, it said.
But the oil-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, which each recorded only a single wind power project last year, will likely fuel growth in renewable energy over the longer term after each made commitments to combat climate change late in 2015, Clean Energy Canada said.
“The real opportunity is in Alberta and Saskatchewan, which still have relatively dirty electricity grids,” said Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at the green advocacy group, which is based at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University and mostly funded by philanthropic foundations.
In Alberta, home to Canada’s vast oil sands and the world’s third-biggest crude reserves, the left-leaning New Democrats won a surprise election victory last year and have since said they will introduce a levy on carbon emissions and phase out coal-fired power generation.
“You can’t ignore the fact that there is more opportunity in Canada now does, in part, stem from the fact there were changes in government in Alberta and Ottawa,” Woynillowicz said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took power before a global climate change conference in Paris late last year at which he promised Canada would do much more to curb its emissions and spend heavily to build a sustainable green economy.
He replaced Conservative Stephen Harper, who fought to shield the oil and gas industry from global commitments to cut carbon emissions. ($1 = 1.2929 Canadian dollars) (Editing by Matthew Lewis)