Western Canada is looking to gain further traction as a regional cleantech leader, despite eastern Canadian provinces (Ontario & Quebec) at the top of the leaderboard.
That being said, a shift is about to take place. The Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA) is hosting the first annual Western Canada Cleantech Innovation Forum at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on November 29 and 30.
Attendees at the two-day conference will have an opportunity to take part in a lot of activities: 38 presentations on cleantech solutions in 8 different sectors; 3 expert panels; a “Green Dragon’s Lair” competition with 6 companies battling for $10,000 in prize money; and 3 expert keynote speakers. Students will be invited to participate in a networking challenge for a chance at one of two $500 prizes.
Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon, a well known climate analyst and author of The Upside of Down and The Ingenuity Gap, along with CBC Radio’s Terry O’Reilly, author of Under The Influence, are two of the keynote speakers scheduled.
Cleantech in Canada has grown in recent years as Canada looks to honor its Paris climate agreements, which means doing its part to keep global warming temperatures well below 2°C of pre-industrial targets, and 1.5°C being the primary goal. Most notably, 5 Canadian companies made it to the 2016 Global Cleantech 100 List.
According to The Edmonton Journal, Alberta and Saskatchewan’s renewable energy investment is expected to reach C$50 billion by 2030 as both provinces strive to meet their Paris agreement commitments.
While Manitoba benefits from low emissions from hydroelectricity, other sources of clean energy have picked up steam — including solar energy — as customers are looking to hedge their bets against rising hydro rates and take advantage of falling solar costs.
As one sign of increasing solar energy interest in Manitoba, last month saw Winnipeg’s largest solar farm open at the Fort Whyte Centre. The 60 kW solar plant is expected to make up half of the electricity demand at the Fort Whyte Centre, and save C$350,000 over the 30-year lifecycle.
Despite all of the recent momentum for cleantech within western Canada, more needs to be done to raise awareness amongst the public and link innovative startups, industry experts, academics, and potential employees who have the skills but lack the connections to enter the cleantech field.
“The Cleantech Forum will allow cleantech companies from across Western Canada to network with industry, academic, and government experts,” said MEIA Executive Director Margo Shaw.
“We want to showcase the innovative cleantech solutions our researchers and companies are engaged in and give them the opportunities, tools and knowledge they need to succeed.”
The first Western Cleantech Innovation Forum is a solid first step in helping the public understand the importance and potential of cleantech, what it can do for our economy, and how it can help preserve the environment we rely on to live.
For more information about the two-day conference, go to MEIA.MB.CA.