Canada’s green energy sector has grown so quickly and has become such an important part of the economy that it now employs more people than the oil sands.
About $25-billion has been invested in Canada’s clean-energy sector in the past five years, and employment is up 37 per cent, according to a new report from climate think tank Clean Energy Canada. That means the 23,700 people who work in green energy organizations outnumber the 22,340 whose work relates to the oil sands, the report says.
Worldwide, 6.5 million people are employed in the clean-energy sector. “Clean energy has moved from being a small niche or boutique industry to really big business in Canada,” said Merran Smith, director of Clean Energy Canada. The investment it has gleaned since 2009 is roughly the same as has been pumped into agriculture, fishing and forestry combined, she said. The industry will continue to show huge growth potential, beyond most other business sectors, she added.
While investment has boomed, the energy-generating capacity of wind, solar, run-of-river hydro and biomass plants has expanded by 93 per cent since 2009, the report says.
Clean Energy Canada says the industry’s growth has been accelerated by supportive policies in a handful of provinces. However, despite its increased importance to the national economy, clean energy is still not a priority in Ottawa, it says.
Government backing is crucial for this industry, Ms. Smith said, as it has been for our other strategic industries. “Every major industrial sector in Canada – from the aerospace industry to the oil sands – has gotten off the ground with support from the federal government. But in the clean-energy sector, the federal government is really missing in action.”