Posts

Renewable Energy in Canada Renewable energy currently amounts to around 18.9% of Canada’s energy supply and more than half of its electricity generation. Nonrenewable sources of energy like natural gas and petroleum make up a majority, at 35.7% and 38.7% respectively, but private and public organizations are working to shrink the disparity. Renewable energy in Canada primarily comes from hydropower plants the country has established on its vast system of rivers. Quebec generates the most renewable energy of any province — 40,000 MW on hydropower alone, according to the Government of Canada.

Now, the expanding renewable energy industry is poised to make energy more affordable, fight unemployment, and strengthen diplomatic relationships between Canada and other countries.

How Renewable Energy in Canada Can Make Energy More Affordable

Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy available. It is cheaper to build infrastructure for and generate power than nonrenewable sources. This remains true even without the government-provided subsidies that companies which businesses in the nonrenewable energy industry typically receive.

In recent years, Canada has committed to subsidizing renewables after signing the Paris Agreement, which set a goal for countries around the world to eventually become carbon neutral.

Currently, energy in Canada is the most expensive in the provinces and territories that are the most impoverished. Nunavut has the second priciest electricity — costing $0,37.5 per kilowatt in 2021. No official reports on poverty exist for Nunavut, but the Canadian government concluded that the residents of Nunavut live in some of the poorest conditions and 37% of households there struggled with food insecurity.

Nunavut is largely made up of scattered, remote and scarcely populated communities. This combined with difficult geography makes it challenging to build centralized energy infrastructure. Thus, most people living in Nunavut rely on expensive diesel power generators and burning fuel oil to power and heat their homes.

Renewable energy has shown some promise in Nunavut. Hydropower provides a third of the energy available in the territory. On average, hydropower costs around $0.80 per kilowatt, which is nearly five times less expensive than the average energy bill.

Currently, most people in Nunavut are not able to take advantage of cheaper renewable options because there are no regional or territorial energy grids in the territory. Still, indigenous groups are fighting to bring renewable energy to their communities and make energy more affordable.

Recently, the Canadian government approved grants to provide $1.6 million to indigenous-led projects that will build solar panels, geothermal heating technology and energy storage infrastructures in remote Nunavut villages.

The Economic Advantages of Expanding Renewable Energy in Canada

The focus on renewable energy in Canada also opens new opportunities for Canadian businesses to grow and expand in international trade.

Due to historical success and $200 million from the government, businesses are constantly emerging in the Canadian renewable energy sector. One such company is the Ontario-based NRStor Inc., which builds energy storage devices for renewables. The company has most notably worked on the Oneida Energy Storage Project, alongside the Six Nations of the Grand River. The project could save Canadians $760 million and be the largest battery energy storage facility in Canada.

The Canadian government reports that Indigenous Canadians are more likely to live in poverty than other groups in the country. This project will create internship, training and employment opportunities for Canada’s indigenous community, according to Six Nations Future.

The exporting of renewable energy internationally is an important source of profit for many of these companies. In 2014, renewable energy companies made $13 billion. Currently, clean fuels like ethanol and biodiesel are the most profitable products. However, there is variety among the hundreds of companies within the Canadian renewable energy industry. As these businesses succeed, they create new jobs and those in poverty can find work.

The Political Advantages of Expanding Renewable Energy in Canada

The expanding renewable energy sector strengthens international relationships between Canada and other countries through the importing and exporting of resources and devices needed to build renewable energy plants.

Recently, the Canadian Government announced hopes to export hydrogen to Germany to help replace Russian oil considering tensions caused by the conflict in Ukraine. The government wants to decrease Russia’s influence on Western Europe and push the international community to further embrace renewables.

The U.S. sees Canada as a major export opportunity for its machining industry because renewable energy plants require many different pieces of machinery to work. Trade between the U.S. and Canada within the renewable energy sector has already led to a memorandum of understanding that removed tariffs on solar technology, establishing the groundwork for future trade deals and partnerships.

Ultimately, renewable energy in Canada could be a key component in the country’s fight against poverty going forward, providing a new avenue for safety, opportunity and security to the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

– Ryan Morton
Photo: Flickr

Innovative and Ecofriendly Startups
This year’s UN High-Level Political Forum came with more than just talks. Some of the most innovative and ecofriendly startups of the year gained recognition and further development opportunities. The theme for 2017 was “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” The SWITCH Africa Green-SEED partnership granted the awards.

SEED itself is a byproduct of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. It works to promote social and environmental entrepreneurship at the local level for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

SWITCH Africa Green is a multi-country project, working in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda. They push for sustainable development through a greener economy in the private sector. SEED’s national project partners alongside the United Nations put these plans to action, and the EU funds them.

A jury of independent international experts select the SWITCH Africa Green-SEED award winners. Additionally, they must operate within agriculture, manufacturing, tourism or waste management as innovative and eco-friendly startups. 2017’s winners are as follows:

Burkina Faso

Coopérative Sahel Vert, of the Sahel region, is the first enterprise to construct efficient biodigesters that release biogas and organic fertilizer from human and animal excrement. This allows households to gain additional income.

Lagazel produces and markets two types of sustainable solar lamps of robust and high-quality nature for urban and rural regions with no electricity. Its production strategy allows local employment. In addition, the lamps address climate change mitigation and encourage eco-friendly lifestyles.

TECO2 develops resistant school benches made from plastic waste and other locally sourced inputs. They also mitigate deforestation and environmental pollution in substituting the use of wood as a raw material.

Ghana

Recfam creates biodegradable and affordable self-titled PRIDE pads out of banana and plantain fibers for schoolgirls and women without access to proper menstrual hygiene products. Women are included in the manufacturing process and personal health education for young girls is provided.

WASHKing supplies and installs biodigester toilets, built locally using available materials, for low-income urban households. It incorporates a biodegradable powder developed in India, and the system is able to separate effluent and turn it into nontoxic water for agriculture or landscaping.

Kenya

Horizons Business Ventures Limited processes essential oils from local seeds and leaves. They employ women in collection groups and creating biodiverse commercial products from existing natural resources. By-products are redeveloped into animal feed and organic pesticides.

ICOSEED Enterprises found an alternative for costly sisal in leftover banana stem fibers from harvests and integrates them into fabrics for marketable items. Farmers gain additional income for the fibers and stitching, and slurry returns from fiber extraction go to manure or biogas usage.

Kencoco Limited produces long-lasting and high heat reaching charcoal briquettes made of coconut shells and husks. Targeting rural Kenya, it saves households money long-term compared to alternative fuels that damage the environment, and makes use of coconut waste and charcoal dust.

Mauritius

Walali Company Limited, located on Rodrigues Island, fashions an agro-processing chain that utilizes retort pouch technology to package native octopus and red beans. The goods are perishable and add value to these culturally significant and organic products. Contracts granted to individual suppliers ensure warranted prices and a secure market.

South Africa

Ekasi Energy manufactures natural biomass pellets from compressed wood waste, alongside clean cooking appliances, for homes with little or no grid power. The product further reduces health threats caused by burning wood or other energy sources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

iThemba Phakama allows voluntary waste pickers no-cost lease agreements to use specialty manufactured tricycles equipped for waste transport. Salvaged waste can then be recycled and sold by members, and the enterprise is financed through advertisements put on the tricycles’ sides.

Umgibe Farming Organics and Training Institute supports more than 41 local farmer cooperatives with a sustainable and organic food growing system. Umgibe allows small-scale or urban farmers to build up capacity and earn more income to become commercial businesses.

Uganda

Brent Technologies transforms sourced motor oil waste into diesel fuel or fresh motor oil. Wastes from the process create roofing asphalt shingles, forming an eco-friendly supply chain.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee prevents small-holder farmers bordering Bwindi National Park from damaging the forest with poaching or wood chopping. It buys premium coffee and processes it to sell as a branded roasted coffee. This benefits the farmers, and the organization donates funds upon purchase to the protection mountain gorillas in the region.

Masupa Enterprises is the last of these innovative and eco-friendly startups. It offers affordable briquettes made from dry leaves, peels, paper and other wastes, sold in conjunction with cooking stoves. Women are employed in production and marketing. Otherwise necessary negative health and environmental effects are avoided.

These 15 innovative and eco-friendly startups have come to accomplish much in terms of sustainable development, reducing poverty and improving livelihoods in their locales, and stand as global examples for all other entrepreneurs and those in the fight against poverty.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr