This past week marked the largest Canadian solar power event ever held…a total of about 20 booths exhibited their wares at the CANSIA-led conference. Of the companies exhibiting a total of 4 produced product in Canada, while others represented products created and/or manufactured elsewhere.
There were politicians and business people, those from academic circles and from general interest. In all, despite its modest size, the general feeling is that there is momentum growing in Canada, as in other countries, for renewable energy, yet its still quite small in this country. Some people asked why?
Consider that Canada created know-how in nuclear reactors with Candu reactor technology, developed high-power hydro projects considered to be amongst the most successful and ambitious in the world and have more oil than Canadians could hope to consumer for generations to come. In such an environment, combined with the fact that the perception remains that solar energy is for “hot spots”, and you can begin to understand why 30million people who live in a land 50% larger than the USA, don’t really make a lot of noise for internal consumption of renewable power (as defined separately from hydro or nuclear). Thus it remains to be seen if substantial consumption programs can invigorate the business atmosphere in Canada.
Where we may have an opportunity is in the focus on export of product and development of key areas of technology or focus. Some solar power products such as the Solarwall and ICP Solar products are almost exclusively exported with 90% of revenue being generated outside of Canada. Therein perhaps lies the answer for the Canadian government which is struggling to understand how to better support Canadian industry without taking the kinds of risks it did with SSP Solar, division of ATS Automation, which has basically closed the chapter on its much trumpeted launch of spheral solar technology.