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Clean Power Groups Slam New Canadian Budget

There wasn’t much cash for cleantech in the proposed 2009 federal budget for Canada that was released this week, especially when compared to the lofty goals of the new administration in the neighboring U.S. The Canadian Wind Energy Association says the proposed budget drops support for renewable incentives, and Greenpeace is blasting the government for potentially putting the bulk of cleantech funds toward carbon capture and storage technology, which Greenpeace calls a “pipe dream.”

CanWEA said the wind industry in Canada might not be able to compete against the U.S. for investments and manufacturing under the new budget, which fails to expand and extend the ecoENERGY for Renewable Power Program. Launched in January 2007, the program is expected to allocate most of its C$1.48 billion ($1.22 billion) in incentives by the end of this year, supporting 4,000 megawatts of new projects that are set to be built by March 2011. The renewable energy industry had been hoping to get the program expanded to C$2.8 billion over five years to build at least 8,000 MW of renewable projects.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to double renewable energy in that country within three years, and a proposed $825 billion stimulus bill making its way through Congress has earmarked $54 billion for clean power and energy efficiency.

The Canadian budget, which hinges on the support of the opposition Liberal Party, includes C$1 billion over five years for what the government calls “promising technologies” in clean energy, but the only technology mentioned is carbon capture and storage. Greenpeace says CCS is “unproven, risky and expensive,” and points out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doesn’t see CCS being commercially viable until around 2050 — potentially too late to alleviate the effects of climate change.

Biomass gets a brief mention in a separate part of the budget covering forestry, with C$80 million allocated over two years for a program led by the not-for-profit FPInnovations research institute, which focuses on forest biomass utilization, nanotechnology and next generation forest products. Biomass could also end up getting a piece of an additional C$40 million in the forestry budget for pilot-scale demonstration projects.

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