By Pam Banks
Living green is a focus of many communities in Ontario including Mississauga. I participated in a focus group with companies in alternative energy to discuss ways to support this sector. Most of the companies were in the solar industry and relative newcomers to Mississauga from China, India, Italy and Germany.
The purpose of the focus group was to discuss ways to support a “cleantech” hub in Mississauga. The group confirmed that a diverse approach to cleantech is important rather than focusing on just solar and wind. Although the FIT program offers incentives for alternative power generation, a long term commitment that expands beyond an election term is required to support public policy. The development of new reliable power sources including storage and distribution is a big project. Germany is one of the world’s largest solar markets and they recently announced they will continue to support feed in tariffs as they close down their nuclear facilities.
The development of alternative energy is a task that is shared with all levels of government – federal, provincial and local. Development of public policy has the biggest impact on development but can suck the life out of grass roots initiatives. However there are real and practical ways that local leadership can help influence the growth of the alternative energy sector by:
– Commitment to participate in alternative energy demonstration projects
– Power authority commitment to provide information on grid capacities and distribution
– Alignment of training and education to support workforce at all levels
– Development of a research and innovation centre for the cleantech sector
The Economic Development Office will develop action plans that incorporate feedback from this session and will help shape the cleantech sector in Mississauga. The group committed to continue to be engaged in this process.
Pam Banks is the Executive Director for RIC Centre. Pam has worked with entrepreneurs in all stages of start-up and growth through the Enterprise Centres and the Canadian Technology Networks.