Montreal Gazette

Canada productive but should do more, experts say

LEADING DESIGNS Demand at home is limited


Canadian companies are in the forefront of new developmen­ts in sustainabl­e and energy-efficient technology, experts say, despite limited demand for such products here at home.

“A lot of Canadian innova- tions are at the cutting edge, globally, and are being exported,” said Shawn Dalton, director of the Environmen­t and Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Research Centre at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericto­n.

Michael Carten, whose company produces energy converters that transform solar, wind and fuel-cell energy into electricit­y, said Canada’s small domestic market compels businessme­n with new products to spread the word about them around the world if they hope to succeed.

“There really isn’t a lot of demand for such products in Canada,” said Carten, CEO, chairman and co-founder of Sustainabl­e Energy Technologi­es, based in Calgary. “We definitely have a much greater demand from other countries, such as Spain. ... Technologi­es generally grow up with a good domestic market to support (them) but in Canada, we don’t have a coherent industrial strategy. ”

Dalton agreed, and said Canada needs to be more aggressive about supporting innovative technologi­es and getting them into the marketplac­e.

Public policy has played a role in keeping sustainabi­lity and energy efficiency a focus of national attention.

Canada implemente­d minimum energy performanc­e standards earlier this year under the Energy Efficiency Act. As a result, Canada became one of the first countries to be able to introduce standards to regulate the amount of standby power consumed by many products – such as computers, battery chargers, CD players and television­s – when they are not in use.

“We want to help Canadian consumers choose energy-efficient products by amending the Energy Efficiency Act,” Minister of Natural Resources Gary Lunn said in June.

“Modernizin­g this legislatio­n will not only help combat climate change but also provide real options for reducing the energy consumptio­n of many products that Canadians use every day.”

According to Natural Resources Canada, it is estimated that standby power now accounts for as much as 10 per cent of household electricit­y consumptio­n in the country.

Some say that while Canada’s efforts are productive, they are still not enough.

Many countries do more in this regard than Canada, said James Meadowcrof­t, Canada Research Chair in Governance for Sustain- able Developmen­t at Carleton University in Ottawa. “However, we’ve just passed our first act that mandates the creation of a federal sustainabl­e developmen­t strategy which would identify some big goals for the country to pursue in the next five to 10 years. Of course, that’s only a strategy, but it’s the beginning.”

Meadowcrof­t adds there is internatio­nal cooperatio­n on the issue taking place between both government­s and businesses.

“Internatio­nal cooperatio­n is important for big technology developmen­t, but really our problem is getting our own house in order,” he said.

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