2016 demonstrated clean energy is here to stay, with or without Trump: report

By Trevor Melanson –

As Canadian clean energy companies look to sell their solutions abroad, it’s clear who’s buying. New analysis from Clean Energy Canada shows the world’s three largest electricity markets – China, the US, and India – were collectively responsible for half of global clean energy investment in 2016, which totalled C$348 billion.

 

China alone has invested over half-a-trillion dollars in clean energy in the last five years, with no plans to slow down—even as US President Donald Trump takes aim at Obama-era climate policies.

India is also emerging as a major destination for clean energy investment, as it pursues a goal of delivering 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022—a tripling of capacity relative to 2015, and more capacity than exists in Canada from all sources of power.

This global marketplace is a major economic opportunity for Canada, a country well-positioned to develop and export clean energy technologies and services. That fact was underscored in the federal budget released last week, which prioritized investing in clean energy innovation.

Such are the conclusions of “The Transition Takes Hold,” the latest report in Clean Energy Canada’s annual Tracking the Energy Revolution series, which analyzes clean energy market trends.

The report also highlights other significant recent developments:

  • While total clean energy investment fell from a record-setting level in 2015, the amount of renewable electricity capacity added in 2016 rivalled 2015 as clean energy technology costs continue to fall.
  • The solar industry created one out of every 50 new jobs in the US last year, while wind turbine technician is America’s fastest-growing occupation.
  • There were 6.7 million clean energy jobs worldwide in 2015.
  • Canada is well-position to take advantage of clean energy’s global demand. Five Canadian clean energy tech companies cracked the 2016 Global Cleantech 100 List.

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Between 2015 and 2025, the International Renewable Energy Agency projects generation costs for onshore wind to fall another 26 per cent, while offshore wind generation costs fall 35 per cent and utility-scale solar PV costs drop 57 per cent.

“The clean energy transition now appears irreversible,” said Merran Smith, executive director, Clean Energy Canada.“In developed and developing countries alike, fossil fuels are being beat out by renewable power that is clean, increasingly cost-competitive, and a source of economic opportunity.

“China, India, the U.S. and Europe are actively seeking clean energy solutions, and Canada is well-positioned to deliver them with some of the world’s most promising clean energy technology companies.”

Dan Woynillowicz, policy director, Clean Energy Canada, said many renewables are competing with fossil fuel alternatives, creating new jobs and cutting pollution, thanks to falling technology costs, which are projected to keep dropping.

“As President Trump decides how to approach clean energy, he will no doubt be informed by two key metrics: the opinion of his supporters and what the sector means for jobs,” said Woynillowicz. “On both counts, the odds are in clean energy’s favour.”

 

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