By Nathan Rudyk

The Canadian Cleantech Summit is in full swing this week, and as reported by Vito Pilieci in an Ottawa Citizen article entitled Clean green and unseen, some cleantech industry participants are decrying a lack of government interest in their momentum. Governments will be governments, but the great thing is industries will be industries. The press release we issued yesterday on OCRI's behalf stated that 85 per cent of Canada’s clean technology companies require no subsidies, are globally competitive, and are situated in what promises to be a $3 trillion industry by 2020. $3 TRILLION.

That 85 per cent number, compiled in the 2011 Canadian Clean Technology Industry Report, supported by the Canadian Clean Technology Coalition and authored by Analytica Advisors, is accompanied by some other interesting facts and stats:

• Canada has close to 700 clean technology companies
• The average Canadian clean technology company employs 62 people
• Industry employment grew 11 per cent (CAGR) from 2008 to 2010
• If the current growth rate is maintained, clean technology industry employment could total 75,000 by 2015 and 126,000 by 2020
• Canadian 2010 clean technology industry revenues totaled $9 billion
• Canadian-owned clean technology companies generated 86 per cent of this revenue
• Canadian based foreign subsidiaries generated 14 per cent of this revenue
• Canada’s clean technology industry revenues grew at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 19 per cent between 2008 and 2010
• If Canadian clean technology companies maintain a 19 per cent CAGR, Canada’s clean technology industry revenues will reach $61.4 billion by 2020, about the size of Canada’s automotive industry today

A great leading indicator of industry-led cleantech momentum is yesterday's announcement that TaraSpan Inc. of Ottawa is offering new market entry services targeting India's burgeoning multi-billion dollar cleantech market. TaraSpan is part of (Sir) Terry Matthews' family of companies, and where Sir Terry's billion-dollar empire leads, others would be wise to follow.

It's also fair to point out that the Ontario government is fully behind cleantech, rivalling Germany's strategic support of this 21st century growth industry. market2world also promotes foreign direct investment trade missions for the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance (that OCRI is a founding member of along with nine other municipal regions).

Following the government's lead, Ontario has attracted more than C$20 billion (US$19.5 billion) in renewable energy investment commitments since it launched its feed-in-tarrif (FIT) program two years ago. Last year, Ontario installed 168 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, surpassing New Jersey as the second leading North American jurisdiction for new solar projects in 2010.

The largest single commitment is a C$7 billion investment by South Korea's Samsung C&T Corp. In addition to Toronto, Windsor and Tillsonburg, Ontario, where Samsung will produce solar inverters, wind turbines and blades, the company announced last month that it would manufacture solar modules in London, Ontario, creating 200 new green energy jobs in that city.

This summer, MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. and SunEdison, its solar energy subsidiary, along with manufacturing partner Flextronics announced expanded manufacturing capacity to deploy rooftop solar panels on municipal buildings in Newmarket, Ontario, with an expectation of generating 400 green energy jobs along with 1.17 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity.

So that's Ontario. Now it's the Federal government's turn to step up. Yesterday Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources, came to the Summit to announce that since 2006 the Feds have "invested more than $10 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable environment". Here's the press release. It contains no hint of follow-on investment, no new programs, and no call to arms to make Canada a world-beating industry centre for clean technology.

Imagine what could happen if the Feds woke up and smelled the fresh air? Imagine if they put a stake in the ground (or some solar panels on the roof) and followed the lead Sir Terry, the government of Ontario and rest of cleantech Canada and establish a firm national priority to build cleantech as Canada's number one export industry by 2020?

Perhaps it's time to stop imagining.

(Nathan Rudyk is President and CEO with market2world communications inc., the public relations and product marketing agency for global innovators.)

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