While Fossils Crash, Clean Energy Soars
Energy headlines in 2015 were dominated by bad news. Plunging oil prices. Oil and gas companies scaling back investment. Coal companies going bankrupt. Job losses.
If it bleeds, it leads.
Turmoil in fossil fuel markets led many analysts to suggest clean energy investment would similarly stall out. How could renewable energy possibly compete with cheap oil, gas and coal?
A record US$367 billion was invested in renewable power in 2015—a third of a trillion dollars. That’s serious money. Clean energy has real momentum, and the commitments underpinning the Paris Agreement on climate change will keep that momentum going.
There’s money to be made and money to be saved. For renewable power developers, declining technology and financing costs mean the profits are getting fatter.
For big power consumers, sourcing renewable power can lock in future savings from technologies whose fuel—wind, sun, water, biomass and the earth’s heat—is free. Clean energy technology and service companies see market opportunities opening up on every continent. And a growing number of Canadian firms are putting skin in the game.
Other forces are also at play. In countries such as China and India, delivering more power without adding to the smog that already chokes big cities is paramount. In the United States, climate action is driving a shift from coal-fired power to clean energy. African countries, including South Africa, are delivering power to communities for the first time and want to avoid the expense of a centralized grid. Around the world, the growing cost-competitiveness of clean energy makes it an easier and easier choice.
Clean energy is going mainstream. Globally, 96 cities, states and even countries have set ambitious targets to achieve up to 100 per cent renewable energy. And it isn’t just governments: some of the world’s largest and mostrecognized companies are committing to—and securing—100 per cent renewable power.
These global trends need to be on the radar of Canadian business and political leaders, because they paint a picture of great opportunity. We can lead or we can follow, but we cannot stand still.
There will continue to be markets for our fossil fuel resources for some time to come, but their future is increasingly uncertain. It’s clear where the puck is going.
Canada has tremendous renewable energy resources, and we have been a leader in capitalizing on them. We have fostered renewable power developers, clean energy technology and service providers. The challenge now is to translate this domestic success into global success. And the clock is ticking.
Clean Energy Canada