The Trudeau government is looking to fund “higher risk” renewable energy technologies, and would like to know who’s interested.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced Jan. 18 that the government was now accepting “expressions of interest” for its $200-million Emerging Renewable Power Program, first promised in the 2017 budget, with a formal request for proposals to come later this year. Those interested have until Feb. 11, 2018 to request an application package.

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr announced Jan. 18 that the government was now accepting “expressions of interest” for its $200-million Emerging Renewable Power Program, first promised in the 2017 budget.

About two-thirds of Canada's power generating capacity already comes from renewable energy, according to a National Energy Board report, but most of that is hydro power, making up 58.8 per cent of all nationwide electricity generation in 2016. Non-hydro renewables made up just 11.5 per cent that year, and of that slice, wind power dominates at 4.7 per cent, with biomass at two per cent and solar at 0.5 per cent.

But other "emerging" renewable technologies have the potential for growth. These could include, for example, geothermal energy, tidal energy, offshore wind projects, small hydropower or solar combined with battery storage.

Natural Resources Canada says these types of emerging renewable projects “face higher risks, costs and more regulatory issues than projects using established renewable energy sources.”

One example of this type of operating environment is tidal energy in Nova Scotia, which the provincial government believes has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs and generate $1.7 billion. But the initiative has faced legal challenges as well as environmental questions.

Natural Resources Canada says it wants to hear about projects that are either not in Canada, but already established commercially abroad, or in Canada, but haven’t been scaled up. It says it will also consider funding environmental assessments associated with energy planning.

“This program will reduce the risks associated with these technologies, help reduce their cost, and allow the sector to more easily navigate through regulatory issues, making the technology more accessible in the long run,” reads a departmental press release.

Canada's electricity sector, which accounted for just under 11 per cent of Canada’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, is one area that the Trudeau government has so far left out of its carbon pollution pricing plans, although government officials say more details are forthcoming.

But there is also demand for exports of clean energy from Canada across the southern border, as some United States jurisdictions gear up to secure long-term supplies of renewable power.

The Emerging Renewable Power Program's funding is drawn from the government's 11-year, $21.9 billion green infrastructure plan. Last year, the government pushed back another environmental budget item, the $2 billion Low Carbon Economy Fund, from over two years to over five years.

Clean Growth Hub launched

Separately on Thursday, the government also announced $700 million over five years for the clean technology industry through the Business Development Bank of Canada, part of the 2017 budget's $2.3 billion for clean tech.

The government said the $700 million will help the bank "take on more risk to help high-potential clean tech firms expand."

Carr, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains and Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna also launched the government's Clean Growth Hub, which they said will support clean tech companies and projects, "co-ordinate existing programs and track results."

The Clean Growth Hub was another 2017 budget promise. It's currently accepting letters of interest for its natural resources sector program until Feb. 7.

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Comments

It would be nice if you gave us a bit more information on what these 'higher risks' are? After decades of hearing how the sun doesn't always shine and the wind doesn't always blow, I'm a bit sceptical about where the facts are behind the rhetoric.

I've done my homework on the astronomically 'high risks' of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. So now why doesn't alternative media fill me in on these 'higher risks' associated with clean energy? I prefer to know, rather than worry and fret over vague threats.

Thanks.

well it would be nice if those spouting the risks weren't former members of the Fraser Institute, as is Jim Carr. One wonders if all this risk talk is being promoted by somewhat oily ideology...you know, those wonder welfare oil czars who have ripped off the public purse for years. Small wonder we are getting "warning signs" from the Minister of Natural Resources...Giveaways.

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