Canada’s clean tech revenue growth stalls in 2014 amid fierce global competition

Revenues from Canada's multibillion-dollar clean technology industry contracted slightly in 2014 after six consecutive years of growth that outpaced the rest of the economy, says a new report.

OTTAWA — Revenues from Canada’s multibillion-dollar clean technology industry contracted slightly in 2014 after six consecutive years of growth that outpaced the rest of the economy, says a new report.

But the study by Analytica Advisors still determined that almost 800 clean tech companies directly employed more than 55,000 people in 2014, an increase of 11 per cent over the previous year.

The numbers point to a sector facing intense international competition from a flourishing global industry.

Nationally, clean tech revenues were pegged at $11.63 billion in 2014, down marginally from $11.7 billion in 2013 — after climbing by eight per cent in each of the previous two years.

Analytica president Celine Bak says Canada has lost 41 per cent of its global clean tech market share since 2005 as other countries have moved aggressively into the growing field.

“There are worrying signs that Canada’s in real danger of repeating the mistake of the past,” Bak said at a news conference, where she was flanked by federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna.

“This year’s report makes sobering reading regarding the opportunities that have been lost and that could be lost in the future.”

The report includes seven recommendations for action, including putting a “significant and rising” price on carbon and creating some sort of government backstop for private lenders to assist in financing clean tech companies as they scale up operations.

McKenna said the Liberal government has placed an emphasis on fostering homegrown clean tech growth and the report is a welcome addition to the debate.

“What’s great is the timing of this, because it fits in very well with our working group process,” said McKenna, referring to four federal-provincial groups established last month at a first ministers’ meeting on climate policy in Vancouver.

Those groups are to recommend policy measures to the prime minister and premiers in the fall.

“World economies are shifting toward cleaner, more sustainable growth and Canada must keep up to stay competitive on the world stage,” said McKenna.

Bak convinced 107 public and private companies in 2015 to open their books to Analytica Advisors in order to benchmark themselves against others in the clean tech industry. The unique access provides research that’s attracted the attention of government.

Canada’s clean tech companies invested $1.2 billion in research and development in 2014, a bigger share of R and D against revenues than the aerospace industry. For the first time in 2014, more than half the industry revenues — $6.6 billion, or 57 per cent — came from exports.

The average clean tech company in Canada has 68 employees and 21 per cent of workers across the industry are under age 30. A fifth are engineers.

The Canadian industry’s top concern in financing. The heavy innovation spending has come at the expense of growth and companies are having difficulty borrowing.

Bak noted that 70 per cent of clean tech firms are based in cities, yet municipalities find it difficult to buy from innovators because new start-ups don’t have deep enough balance sheets to provide long-term warranties. Private companies may be even more risk-averse to buying their wares.

The clean tech industry should get a boost later this week when 147 countries convene at the United Nations in New York to sign the Paris climate accord, signalling a global intention to decarbonize.

Coupled with the Liberal government’s budget emphasis on green infrastructure, it’s a clean tech opportunity that needs to be carefully considered, Bak said in an interview.

“If we do business as usual, investment in infrastructure will not necessarily be a tide which (lifts) all boats,” she said.

Bak suggests the public sector act as a guarantor for private-sector lending, as is done with home mortgages, to encourage more aggressive financing and growth.

“We need to work on that and do so quickly, because the investments that are being made in infrastructure are important in the next few years and these should be opportunities for us to renew our economy and build some new companies.”

Just Posted

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman holds up freedom of information requests that turned up no records. The Opposition requested back-to-school re-entry plan correspondence between Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and school boards, teachers and the media. Photo via Facebook live
NDP renews calls for Alberta gov’t to scrap K-6 draft curriculum

The NDP is once again calling on the Alberta Government to get… Continue reading

Earlier this week Alberta Health Services warned that Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department would be temporarily without physician coverage from May 12, at 6 p.m., to May 13, at 7 a.m. (Photo contributed by the Town of Rocky Mountain House)
Doctors needed in Rocky Mountain House

Emergency department temporarily closed due to doctor shortage

The owner of Mae’s Kitchen in Mirror, says hamlet residents were ‘disheartened’ by a recent anti-restriction protest. The restaurant is following all the health restrictions in place. (Photo courtesy Mae’s Kitchen Facebook)
‘We don’t need that’: Mirror restaurant against recent anti-restriction protest

A week after a large anti-restriction protest at The Whistle Stop Cafe… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Albertans receive vaccines at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order against a Calgary mayoral candidate who the agency says has threatened health workers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

In this file photo dated Friday, Feb. 12, 2021, doses of AstraZeneca vaccines for COVID-19 sit in vials at the Fiocruz Foundation after being bottled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Some health experts are questioning Canada's decision to accept thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine this week just for them to sit in freezers in an Ontario warehouse because provinces have shunned the idea of using any more of them for first doses. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Bruna Prado, FILE
Experts call on Canada to use COVAX doses of AstraZeneca or give them back

Experts call on Canada to use COVAX doses of AstraZeneca or give them back

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. Federal health officials are laying out their vision for what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal officials lay out road map for post-vaccine life as third wave ebbs

Federal officials lay out road map for post-vaccine life as third wave ebbs

An aerial view of housing in Calgary is shown on June 22, 2013. The Calgary Real Estate Board says the city's housing market is expected to stabilize, with some prices forecast to rise this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

CALGARY — Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order… Continue reading

Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is seen during a news conference Thursday, June 18, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Guilbeault doubles down on Bill C-10 as opposition MPs demand Lametti testify

Guilbeault doubles down on Bill C-10 as opposition MPs demand Lametti testify

In this image from video, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020. A U.S. lawmaker who has made a political crusade out of getting the border with Canada reopened is once again pressing his case with President Joe Biden. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-House Television via AP
New CDC guidance makes it clear: time to reopen Canada-U.S. border, congressman says

New CDC guidance makes it clear: time to reopen Canada-U.S. border, congressman says

Cows and their calves graze in a pasture on a farm near Cremona, Alta., Wednesday, June 26, 2019. Thanks to a decade of rapid growth, there are now 279 facilities across Canada creating biogas from methane emitted by agricultural waste, landfills, green bin programs and municipal wastewater treatment facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Methane-capturing biogas projects in Canada reach 279, says association report

Methane-capturing biogas projects in Canada reach 279, says association report

A man watches the financial numbers at the TMX Group in Toronto's financial district on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
North American stock markets recover to end week slightly off record highs

North American stock markets recover to end week slightly off record highs

Most Read