As I suspected the Harper government is throwing a bit more money at cleantech R&D and demonstration, with a focus on “key priorities that include carbon dioxide sequestration, clean coal, clean oil sands production and renewable energy.” Notice how renewable energy is the last one mentioned.
The commitment? A not so whopping $230 million invested over four years in a program called the ecoEnergy Technology Initiative. What’s not clear is whether this will be part of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (created by the Liberals), how the money will be invested, and whether the money is actually new or part of SDTC’s existing budget.
SDTC, which began allocating funds in April 2002, began with a budget of $550 million. So far it has funded nine rounds and allocated $241 million. The rest will be allocated by 2010, working out to an average of $61 million a year. Of interest is that SDTC funds projects on a 1:2 basis, meaning for every dollar SDTC invests $2 must come from the private sector/industry.
What the Conservatives announced today equals $57.5 million a year. So, if it is merely announcing money that SDTC already has, then, this is a pathetic announcement. If it’s new money, then that would amount to a doubling of clean investment over the next four years — not bad, but not necessarily enough.
So either way, I find this announcement underwhelming.
UPDATE: The Conservatives say they won’t provide details of how this $230 million will be allocated until April (likely after an election, surprise, surprise). They have hinted it will likely be invested as part of some public-private partnerships, which is the approach SDTC is taking. That said, a source at SDTC told me their budget remains in tact and completely separate from this announcement, so the $230 million appears so far to be *new* money. But again, we won’t know details until April.