The solar energy industry experienced a serious boom in both the U.S. and China last year, but for the second year in a row Canadian investments plummeted.
One in 50 new jobs created in the U.S. last year was in solar, according to The Solar Foundation — a 25 per cent increase from 2015.
But that’s nothing compared to China, which officially became the world’s biggest producer of solar energy after it doubled its photovoltaic capacity, bringing it to 77.42 gigawatts, Reuters reported on Saturday.
Workers move a solar panel at an assembly plant in Toronto. (Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty)
In December, the World Economic Forum released a report that showed in 30 countries, solar or wind has dropped below the price of coal.
In Canada however, solar isn’t looking so bright. New investments dropped 46 per cent in 2016, bringing it to the lowest its been in a decade, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF),
Some industry voices attribute the decline to the fulfillment of provincial policies that promoted renewables in Quebec and Ontario.
“No other region in Canada will supplant Ontario and Quebec’s recent build. The better way to look at it from Canada’s perspective is that the last couple of years have really been an anomaly, based essentially on a bunch of projects coming through the pipeline all at the same time,” Amy Grace, a researcher at BNEF, told the National Observer.
However, others are hopeful that solar will experience major growth in the next few years, as more companies contemplate switching to greener energy sources.
“It is pretty easy to see this industry standing on its own two feet economically, without subsidy, in a five-year time frame,” Greg Payne, vice-president of a Toronto clean-tech investment firm, told The Globe and Mail.
Canada’s federal government has also committed to supporting more clean energy, as have Alberta and Saskatchewan’s governments.