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November 23, 2017
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The Rise of Solar Power

Henry Tran, SFU Public Square Volunteer

The views and opinions expressed in SFU Public Square's blogs are those of the authors, and they do not necessarily reflect the official position of Simon Fraser University or SFU Public Square, or any other affiliated institutions in any way.

According to a recent report from Simon Fraser University, Canada is home to 14 out of the 19 metals that go into production of clean energy technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines. This has significant implications for the Canadian economy because more jobs can be created in the mining sector as many countries around the world are becoming more reliant on renewable energy.

India, for example, is a populous country that lacks the infrastructure to deliver electricity to all of its citizens, especially the ones residing in remote areas. The reason for this is because it’s a challenging and time-consuming process to add new extensions to the country’s existing power grid.

Instead, with clean energy technologies, there is more mobility in the way electricity can be delivered to residents residing in rural areas, because these technologies can function on their own even if they become disconnected from one another. As weather patterns become more extreme and natural disasters become more common, less reliance on the traditional grid will become increasingly important.

Moreover, the price of solar energy is becoming increasingly competitive as a low-cost source of electricity, according to the report. However, with the opportunities for economic improvement comes the possibility of environmental damages as well, such as the 2014 tailings pond breach disaster that occurred at the Mount Polley copper mine in Quesnel Lake, BC.

It’s important for Canada to pursue this economic opportunity because the materials for green technology need to come from somewhere -- and Canada has some of the best environmental regulations in the world. It could potentially be ill-advised to stand back while other countries, whose environmental regulations are not as stringent as ours, take up this challenge and risk unnecessary global pollution. Of course, the Canadian government needs to closely monitor the additional mining activities as well to protect our environment from environmental damages.

Canadians don’t want the risk of pollution or breaches in their backyard, but the metals have to come from somewhere. The growth of the renewable energy industry hinges on these materials, and Canada is in an ideal position to capture the economic rewards from a growing industry.

 

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