In the summer of 2009, the National Research Council of Canada and the Centre for Sustainability and Social Innovation at the Sauder School of Business conducted an industry survey with the purpose of defining the needs of BC clean energy companies. 61 entities, including clean energy companies, research institutes, investors and associations responded to this survey.
The clean energy technology companies showed a promising picture with their ability to develop and market innovative technologies to global customers, but most are still relatively young and are working to become established in the market. Focused on the evolving clean energy markets of North America, Europe and Asia, such companies are at the heart of BC’s green economy – an industry that accounted for about $8.8 billion in provincial GDP in 2008, accounting for 3.1% and 71,734 green economy jobs in total. Since clean technology is not easily defined, these numbers can vary according to the definition. The target of the survey was clean technology companies with can be divided into the following groups: distributed power generation, clean transportation, bio energy, clean transportation and remediation.
Even during this time of economic recession, clean technology is said to have the potential to be one of the first industries to recover. BC’s greatest advantage as a clean energy hub is its abundance of energy resources, a skilled work force and the capabilities of its research institutions. Major disadvantages include the lack of access to capital and the absence of tax incentives which forces most of the companies interviewed to finance their R&D through their operational cash flow. The survey showed that financial aid, export aid and support for faster commercialization pathways are a high priority for these companies.
BC’s clean energy technology companies have felt the impact of the global economic slow down and are struggling to find funding sources and industry partners to build demonstration projects in the first place. Through initiatives, such as the BC clean energy technology cooperative BC CETC and the UBC – CIRS, BC’s clean energy companies have opportunities to outsource parts of their technology development which allows for increased resources and focus on the commercial side of their activities. Other groups such as Cleanworks BC and the Cleantech CEO alliance focus on the promotion of BC’s clean tech strengths to the international markets. These opportunities allow for added freedom and a faster development cycle through the use of experts in clean energy technology fields. Cost and resource savings as well as reduced time to market will help BC’s clean energy companies to increase market shares, revenues and create new green jobs and services and help BC to move into a modern clean energy economy. BC, which already has an abundance of resources for renewable energy and research, is moving steadily in the direction of becoming a clean tech hub in North America.