Ontario's Road Map to Prosperity: Developing Renewable Energy to its Full Potential
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Ontario needs a practical solution that provides strong local economic development and new employment sources to replace the 230,000 manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the province in the last five years. As recent statistics clearly indicate this worrisome unemployment trend is accelerating as the current economic downturn gathers momentum.2 In addition, our province requires an innovative approach to fulfill its commitments to reduce greenhouse gases and to control air and water pollution. Fortunately the solution is at hand: developing renewable energy sources to their full potential. This document summarizes a viable strategy, a roadmap, to achieve prosperity, energy security and ecological protection in Ontario. Developing this renewable energy roadmap to achieve prosperity and environmental protection will require vision, widespread collaboration, and political leadership. The roadmap is based on three crucial principles that form the foundation for achieving the multiple benefits of developing renewable energy sources to their full potential in Ontario: Establishing a robust domestic market that prioritizes 1. sustained renewable energy development 2. Development of a strong financial infrastructure that ensures that Ontarians can actively invest in renewable energy development 3. Strengthening the province’s educational networks to develop the skilled workforce required to manufacture, design, install, and maintain renewable energy systems and all associated support infrastructure. These three principles have been successfully employed in the jurisdictions that have become the global leaders in renewable energy development: Denmark, Germany and Spain. These three jurisdictions have achieved strong domestic markets that provide the required stability for their local industries to thrive and for investment decisions to take root. Their healthy domestic markets have made the renewable energy industries of these three leaders into export powerhouses and have also developed strong and skilled workforces. Germany today has more than 248,000 people working in its renewable energy sector and Spain has achieved, in 10 years, a workforce of 190,000 people.3 The lessons emanating from these three leading countries can be adapted to suit the unique conditions of Ontario to rapidly achieve the adoption of a new energy paradigm. Although Ontario has a smaller population than Germany or Spain we have a skilled workforce and a much larger territory that is richly endowed with abundant renewable energy resources. Ontario also has the comparative advantage of having as neighbours provinces that are already powered largely by hydroelectric plants that can provide our province with the opportunity to access affordable dispatchable power to compliment the large-scale local implementation of intermittent renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar power). Most importantly, Ontario already has some of the key policies in place that have made Denmark, Germany and Spain world leaders in renewable energy. In addition, the province provides attractive working and investment conditions such as public health care and affordable education systems, which constitute two clear advantages over neighbouring US states. To capitalize on these benefits, Ontario needs a strong policy framework to ensure that a sustainable domestic market can develop to satisfy our energy needs and to provide a strong beacon for investment flows. Leading RE countries such as Germany and Spain have structured their policy framework around renewable energy legislation. Similar legislation would enable Ontario to meet its RE targets for 2010 and beyond, help launch a key foundation for a local sustainable economy, enable the building of innovative industries, create new jobs, and help reduce pollution. Most interestingly, all of these benefits can be achieved by harnessing in a new manner current investment used for keeping the lights of Ontario on. The roadmap summarized here uses the combined knowledge of some of the best renewable energy experts in our province and the world to illustrate clearly the steps required for Ontario to become the North American leader in renewable energy. This document also highlights specific collaborative areas in which agencies such as the TRCA can continue to lead to ensure the adoption of renewable energy and a successful and sustained transition to a more prosperous, resilient and ecologically sound society.