In the October 2011 Ontario election, the incumbent liberal government put much emphasis on its green jobs initiatives. Much of the emphasis on the initiative related to the Green Energy Act but other initiatives have shown the government is capable of attracting foreign investment in the province.
The main advantage of green jobs is that they’re less likely to be transported offshore; they utilize something that previously had little or no value, and tend to be centred in urban industrial land (helping revitalize it).
Although much hype (and scorn) has been made about the $7 billion green energy deal between the Province of Ontario and Samsung, other foreign-based companies have set up shop in Ontario due to green incentives established by the government. Two of those companies hail from California, considered a hub for green jobs in North America.
In 2009, the Ontario government instituted an environmental fee of $5.84 per new tire purchased to pay for recycling. Unlike the previous environment fee charged for tires that went to general government coffers, this fee is managed by Ontario Tire Stewardship (OTS) that pays companies that store, transport, recycle and process used tires. The fee also funds research and development and can be used to educate consumers. Overnight, the 12 million tires generated in the province each year became a valuable commodity.
California-based Crumb Rubber Manufacturing (CRM) recently opened its fourth North American tire recycling facility in Brantford, Ontario (about 30 minutes west of Hamilton). The Brantford facility is similar to CRM’s other three facilities in California, Arizona and New York. When in full operation, the Brantford facility will process 72,000 tonnes of used tires per year and have 50 full-time employees. The building that houses CRM’s Brantford operation used to be an auto parts manufacturing facility — a signal of the growth in the green industry.
CRM’s tire processing method produces a high-quality crumb rubber is sold to the asphalt rubber, synthetic turf, and rubber molded products industries. CRM’s utilization of cryogenic freezing of tires during processing is a key step in producing a high quality product that separates it from its competitors.
The President and CEO of CRM is Dr. Barry Takallou, who obtained his doctorate in civil engineering studying rubberized asphalt and later developed a method of producing high quality crumb rubber to meet the needs for his customers.
Talking about the move into Canada, Dr. Takallou responded, “We are very happy with the decision to build our fourth facility in Ontario. The government used tire program is not the only reason we came here, but it shows a commitment to green jobs.”
In 2004, California-based Liberty Energy responded to the Ontario government call for renewable energy supply. The company proposed the construction of a bioenergy facility in the City of Hamilton that would produce 10 MW of renewable electricity. The bioenergy facility would utilize 400,000 tonnes of biosolids (sewage sludge) and 150,000 tonnes of wood per year.
Obtaining environmental approval for the proposed facility took more time and money than anticipated : four years. A major hurdle with respect to approval was the opposition to the project by the City of Hamilton and a local environmental group. Secondly, the Ontario government changed the rules regarding the environmental approval process for bioenergy facilities half-way through the initial approval process.
Despite the setbacks related to obtaining environmental approval, Liberty Energy is set to begin construction of the $120 million facility in 2012. The company will use a bubbling fluidized bed to gasify and combust the waste. The heat of combustion will drive a condensing steam turbine coupled with a generator to produce electrical power.
Full operation of the Liberty Energy bioenergy facility is expected in 2015. The plant will employee 23 people onsite with another 36 off-site jobs responsible for support and logistics.
When asked about the renewable energy climate in Canada, Wilson Owen, CEO of Liberty Energy responded, “We came to Ontario because of the stable and progressive renewable energy policy of the Ontario and federal government. Unlike the United States, Canada’s renewable energy does not turn on and off, thus allowing a large, complex project like ours to be built.”
NOTE: For another perspective, see the article “Non-tariff trade barriers” on page 37.
John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., is a consultant based in Toronto, Ontario. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org