Tag Archives: EcoEnergy

Alter NRG sees strategic collaboration as key to growth in geoexchange market

I’ve written before about Calgary-based Alter NRG, a provider of plasma gasification systems that in recent months has started to become a serious player in the geoexchange system design and installation market. It began back in October 2009, when it acquired Mississauga-based geoexchange developer Clean Energy Developments Corp. for $18.4 million.  It’s an odd fit — gasification and geoexchange — but whatever works. What I like about Alter NRG’s move into geoexchange is that the company is beginning to consolidate the market, with a particularly focus on Ontario. Today, for example, it announced that it had acquired 35 per cent of Groundheat International Inc. for $2.3 million. Groundheat and Clean Energy are competitors in one sense, but Alter NRG’s minority stake in Groundheat will promote more collaboration between to the two companies. It’s well known that the bottleneck in the geoexchange market is drilling — i.e. there simply aren’t enough drill rigs to keep the pipeline moving fast enough. Groundheat has six drill rigs versus Clean Energy’s one rig. “CleanEnergy will use Groundheat drilling services in the Ontario market to expand its ability to offer a turnkey product for larger commercial installations and under the terms of the acquisition agreement will jointly schedule the usage of the installation assets,” according to Alter NRG. On the flip side, Clean Energy will be the preferred supplier of equipment for all Groundheat installations.

Of interesting is that the Remington Group, a leading commercial developer in Ontario, owns 50 per cent of Groundheat and has used the company to install geoexchange systems for the condominiums and other large buildings it develops. Remington alone is planning a number of geoexchange projects totalling about $15 million over the next two years. “The geoexchange market has only a few large scale competitors and Clean Energy’s strategy is alignment and collaboration with key service providers in the industry,” according to Alter NRG. “The market potential is so large, that collaboration will improve quality, lower the cost structure and provide our customers the maximum financial value which will potentially increase adoption of geoexchange technology.”

This might sound like boring stuff, and, well, it is. But it’s significant to see the geoexchange industry grow from a bunch of ma and pa operations to being larger, smarter and more aggressive in the way they tackle the market. Now, it doesn’t help that major federal incentives are no longer available through the EcoEnergy retrofit program, but Alter NRG is going after commercial-scale projects so is mostly not affected.

Calling all energy auditors, solar/geothermal contactors

I’m trying to get a sense of how the Canadian federal government’s decision to stop accepting applications for EcoEnergy refrofit incentives will affect energy auditors, HVAC companies and installers of solar thermal and geothermal systems across the country, particularly Ontario.  Are you worried the provinces will follow? Do you expect business to slow down dramatically? Are you expecting to lay off staff?

Let me know — e-mail tyler@cleanbreak.ca

Copenhagen brain squeeze: Day 4

WWF-International released a study today ranking the cleantech market activities of countries around the world. The report predicts that by 2020 the cleantech industry will be worth $2.45 trillion, ranking as the third-largest global industry behind automobiles and electronics.

According to the 44-country ranking, measured by cleantech sales as a percentage of GDP, the Top 3 countries are Denmark, Brazil and Germany. China ranked sixth. The U.S. ranked 19th, just one position behind the United Kingdom. On the bottom half of the list are Australia, ranked 28th, and Canada, ranked 31st. Keith Stewart at WWF said the results come as a warning to Canada. “This report shows that Canada is far behind countries like the U.S. and China in investing in green technologies, in real and relative terms,” he said. “You can be sure the Chinese economy will not sit still while we sit on our hands.”

Stewart said it doesn’t help that come the end of January 2010 a Canadian federal incentive program designed to promote renewable energy development will run out of budgeted funds. While there is talk of re-charging the fund next year there is still likely to be a major funding gap, creating the kind of bust-boom cycle that once held back the U.S. wind and solar markets. Have we not learned from past mistakes?

Residential solar thermal systems get huge incentive boost

The Canadian government boosted its incentives for home energy retrofits yesterday by 25 per cent for most items, which the Ontario government said it would match. It’s all part of an effort to stimulate “green” home renovations as part of a larger effort to kickstart economic activity.

I said “most” items because solar thermal hot water systems got an even greater boost. The current rebate is $500 from the federal government, matched by a further $500 from Ontario. The feds increased its rebate dramatically to $1,250. So if Ontario matches, as it says it will, that will mean anyone who purchases and installs a residential solar hot water system will get $2,500 back. Not bad, considering you can get a system for as low as $6,000.

Expect more “thermal” and energy efficiency announcements from Ontario in the coming weeks. Here’s my article in the Star if you want some more details.