Northern Exposure: An Overview of Canadian Clean Energy Funds
The Canadian federal government is an active proponent of renewable energy and supports a variety of funding mechanisms for clean energy projects and programs. In addition to federal climate change funding aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other federal, provincial and municipal incentives to finance renewable energy projects, several clean energy funds1 also exist in Canada. This case study profiles the activities of the following clean energy funds: the Green Municipals Funds (GMEF and GMIF) , the Climate Change Action Fund (CCAF), the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC). It also explores other federal and provincial incentives that have a significant impact on Canada's renewable energy market. While there are numerous energy efficiency programs and funding mechanisms in Canada, the scope of this case is limited to funding for clean energy production technologies in Canada. Though they share many similarities to their U.S. counterparts, some of the key distinguishing characteristics of the Canadian funds include:
- Unlike in the United States, the major Canadian clean energy funds tend to operate nationally, with division of responsibility between them lying in the type of projects that they support (e.g., technology development vs. feasibility studies, vs. investments), rather than along geographic boundaries. The national reach of most of the Canadian funds allows them to capitalize on local opportunities and partners in many different areas, yielding a broad cross-section of projects.
- Also unlike in the United States, where clean energy funds have typically been financed by electric ratepayers, the Canadian clean energy funds are endowed with large sums of taxpayer money and other federal revenue sources from the federal or provincial governments, but are often kept at arms length to prevent reallocating the funds to other governmental priorities.
- In general, the Canadian funds are driven by broad climate and technology development goals, while U.S. funds typically have a somewhat more narrow focus and consequent range of projects eligible for support.
- Canadian funds rely heavily on projects created through innovative partnerships (e.g., between federal and municipal government, and/or private sector and academic partnerships).