September 06, 2012 - A new report
by the Mowat Centre at the University of Toronto raises
telling questions about Canada's goal of becoming an 'energy
The report highlights the need for Canada to make energy
technology policy a top priority and reform its approaches to
supporting energy R&D.
Becoming an energy technology leader should be a concrete policy
commitment from both orders of government, says the report. That
commitment should span the whole energy system, from supply to
Canada's natural resources represent an
enormous opportunity to diversify our exports and become more
active in the multi-billion dollar global energy technology market.
Canada risks missing out on the opportunity of becoming a leader if
it fails to invest.
"Becoming an energy superpower requires more than just
taking things out of the ground and selling them around the world,"
concludes the report's author, Mowat energy policy associate
Tatiana Khanberg. "What is missing is energy
The report argues that to become an energy superpower, Canada
needs to be a global leader in energy technologies, a leader that
offers the world not only access to raw energy resources.
Canada must also provide the technology for the efficient
development and use of energy across the entire energy system.
This includes the tools to reduce related environmental
damage, and, eventually, the breakthrough technologies that will
allow a transition to new sources of low-carbon energy.
Notes the report, Between 2002 and 2008, "when adjusted
for inflation, Canada's trade in climate-friendly technologies
actually declined by 2 per cent annually on average"
Canada's Energy Technology Policy
Canada's current approach to energy technology investments is
piecemeal and fragmented, says the report.
With some exceptions (which are highlighted in the document),
governments rely on a mix of short-term and overlapping boutique
energy research and development (ER&D) programs. These have a
mediocre track record when assessed on the basis of measurable
outputs, such as Canada's (poor) performance in developing new
A national energy strategy, with a
sustained and comprehensive national approach to ER&D as its
foundation, is a precondition for energy superpower
But energy technology could be the basis for a wider
intergovernmental consensus because, unlike physical resources,
expertise in energy technologies is much more broadly distributed
across the country.
The report stresses that a province like Ontario could benefit
from a national commitment to energy technology investments due to
its abundance of human, financial, and knowledge
capital. These assets can translate into attractive
opportunities to export and develop ER&D services and new
energy-using technologies-both across Canada and to the world.
The current suite of ER&D policies and programs is not
designed to meet the needs of an emerging energy superpower, says
the report. Citing the International Energy Agency, the Mowat
Centre says 'It will take nothing less than an energy revolution
for the world to meet the energy challenges of the 21st
The report charts the path forward from our current approach to
one where Canada builds on its natural endowments in order to meet
political, economic, social, and environmental objectives
domestically and abroad.
To begin with, Canada should put technology at the heart of a
new national energy strategy, focused on helping the world
transition to lower carbon energy, said Mowat Centre director
Matthew Mendelsohn, in a Globe and Mail article.
"The world is evolving to cleaner forms of energy and we don't
have the technology to support that," he said. "There's no reason
why Canada shouldn't be thinking of itself as an energy superpower
in a different way."
"Our quest for energy superpower status must strive to maximize
benefits for Canadians, providing opportunities to regions across
the country," states the report.
The Mowat report echoes the findings of recent research by GLOBE
Advisors on the 'clean economy' of the Pacific Coast region, which
indicated that the transition to a low-carbon energy future
requires vision, leadership, and coherent, economy-wide, strategic
approaches. Clean energy technologies were singled out as one of
the key areas of job and investment growth over the next decade. Check here for more details on this
full Mowat report is available here.