Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Clean Energy and Related Industries of Atlantic Canada

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Clean-Energy Industries in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada has one of the fastest growing clean-energy sectors in North America, with a substantial base of installed wind-energy capacity and has leading-edge projects in renewable biomass. Through its Centres of Excellence, the region conducts leading-edge research in fields such as tidal energy, geothermal energy, biofuels and wind power.

Atlantic Canada is also a North American leader in the production of hydro-electricity, with the ability to export to the world's largest energy markets in the Eastern United States. As a result, renewable energy is rapidly becoming an economic driver in the region, making Atlantic Canada an attractive location for business development and research opportunities in the field.

Atlantic Canada continues its growth in the clean-energy industry sector and is looking to attract globally competitive partners. Atlantic Canada stands out from the rest of the world as a place to do business because of its combination of:

  • excellent academic institutions;
  • research and development (R&D) capacities;
  • manufacturing facilities;
  • an abundance of natural resources; and
  • easy access routes to global markets.

In particular, organizations seeking research partners will find opportunities to develop their business with innovative companies along with cutting-edge research at Atlantic universities.

If you want to be part of the clean-energy sector, Atlantic Canada needs to be on your short list.

If you still aren't convinced, here are five more reasons why you should consider Atlantic Canada for your business:

  1. Atlantic Canada is a strategic gateway between North America and Europe – world-class air, land and sea access to all major U.S. markets.
  2. Atlantic Canada is ranked among the lowest business-cost locations within G8 countries.
  3. Atlantic Canada is home to more post-secondary graduates per capita than the Canadian and U.S. averages, resulting in a highly skilled labour force.
  4. Atlantic Canada has cutting-edge clean-energy and environmental R&D.
  5. Atlantic Canada's R&D initiatives are supported through government-funded programs, including competitive regional incentive programs.

We call this Canada's Atlantic Advantage.

Electrician working on a meter

Industry Capacity Building

Atlantic Canada's clean-energy and environmental industries are well supported by industry associations that work together to develop the sector.

Industry Associations


The Atlantica Centre for Energy ( in New Brunswick is setting an agenda for the energy cluster that will drive economic development and advance R&D in the region's growing energy sector. The Centre's mandate includes renewable-energy production, energy conservation and efficiency in its focus on development of a long-term, secure supply of clean, responsibly produced energy products and services.

The New Brunswick Environment Industry Association ( is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth and development of the environmental industry in New Brunswick. It helps members maximize opportunities, improve competitiveness, reduce costs and expand regional activities.


The Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association ( provides a strong unified voice for communication and co-operation among the private sector, government and non-profit entities involved in Newfoundland and Labrador's environmental industry. The Association keeps its members informed of industry happenings and issues, and it hosts regular events, including trade shows, conferences, seminars and workshops.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association (NOIA) ( is Canada's largest offshore petroleum association. NOIA's mission is to promote development of East Coast Canada's hydrocarbon resources and to facilitate its membership's participation in global oil and gas industries. With close to 600 members in Atlantic Canada and around the world, NOIA is the information hub of East Coast Canada's oil and gas industry. NOIA's members provide products and services for the petroleum sector, many of which are applicable to the renewable-energy industry.


The Atlantic Council for Bioenergy Co-operative Limited ( is made up of companies and related organizations from across Atlantic Canada that promote the development of the bioenergy industry in the region. The objectives of the Bioenergy Co-operative are to help establish a regulatory framework, promote new technologies and attract investment. The Canadian Bioenergy Association (CANBIO) ( also has a significant presence in Atlantic Canada.

The Environmental Services Association Nova Scotia ( is a business organization that promotes environmental products and services and contributes to sustainable development in Nova Scotia. It provides networking events, weekly newsletters, policy development, training and export development. Also in Nova Scotia, the Eco-Efficiency Centre ( is mandated to help the province's small businesses to become more eco-efficient.

The Maritimes Energy Association ( is a not-for-profit industry association representing the energy industry across the three Maritime provinces and plays an important role as a business association for companies involved in all aspects of the sector.

Government Support

The Government of Canada supports research, development and demonstration of next-generation clean-energy technologies. Companies investing in Atlantic Canada have a partner in both the provincial and federal governments through funding programs for early stage to later stage technologies.

Incentives for Investment

The federal government, through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) (, offers a 50 per cent Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for clean-energy generation projects. The CRA's Scientific Research and Experimental Development program helps to underwrite R&D activities that will lead to new, improved or technologically advanced products or processes.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) ( is a not-for-profit foundation that finances and supports the development and demonstration of clean technologies that provide solutions to issues of climate change, clean air, water quality and soil, and that deliver economic, environmental and health benefits to Canadians.

SDTC operates two funds aimed at the development and demonstration of innovative technological solutions. The $550 million SD Tech Fund™ supports projects that address climate change, air quality, clean water and clean soil. The $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund™ supports the establishment of first-of-a-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) ( offers support programs designed to stimulate the development and commercialization of new technologies in Atlantic Canada. ACOA administers the Atlantic Innovation Fund (AIF), which provides R&D funding support to stimulate innovation in the region.

For example, the AIF has helped fund projects to develop wind turbines, construct, test, and commercialize torrefaction technology to create a dense biomass product from crop and wood waste, and develop biodiesel using algae. As of 2010, the AIF has provided 37 environmental and energy R&D projects with over $91 million in funding.

A joint initiative of ACOA and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) (, the Atlantic Canada Energy (ACE) Office was established in 2009 as a "mechanism for the Government of Canada to coordinate and manage its energy-related activities in the Atlantic region." Its mandate covers the full range of the energy sector in Atlantic Canada through four core areas of activity: investment attraction, trade and supplier development, R&D/science coordination, and policy analysis and support.

Other Government of Canada programs that are available include:

  • The ecoEnergy for Biofuels program;
  • The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's Research and Development Program;
  • Industry Canada's Automotive Innovation Fund;
  • Infrastructure Canada's Green Infrastructure Fund;
  • The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's Industry Partnership Programs; and
  • The Canada Revenue Agency's Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program.
Provincial Economic Development Agencies

The governments of all four Atlantic Provinces have economic development agencies mandated to attract industry and support the growth of key sectors. All four Provinces are pursuing clean-energy-sector development strategies, and there are a number of potential funding programs that could be used to support the attraction of clean-energy and environmental firms to the region:

Each of the four Provinces also has a department focused on the development of the energy sector.

The governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have created community feed-in tariffs (COMFIT) to encourage the development of smaller-scale wind, biofuel and tidal renewable-energy projects.

A stable government and economic growth to help fuel clean-energy and environmental industry opportunities are just two more Atlantic Canadian advantages.

Various bar and pie charts on a clipboard

Proven Cost Advantages

Atlantic Canada's cost advantages will drive your business growth.

Atlantic Canada offers the clean-energy and environmental industries one of the most competitive business-cost environments among the G8 countries. In the 2010 edition of Competitive Alternatives: KPMG's Guide to International Business Location, Atlantic Canada's cities ranked among the lowest cost locations for all of the industries reviewed.

On average, location-sensitive costs (i.e. costs that vary based on where a facility is located) were up to 20 per cent lower in Atlantic Canada than in other locations for manufacturing operations and up to 41 per cent lower for R&D operations.

Why are our costs lower? Add it up…

  • a lower cost of living means a dollar goes further in Atlantic Canada;
  • Fifteen per cent to 30 per cent lower employer benefit costs compared to U.S. and European locations;
  • lower construction and facilities costs;
  • lower utility costs;
  • lower employer-paid health-care costs; and
  • lower corporate tax rates than many U.S. and European locations.

If this doesn't convince you that Atlantic Canada is an ideal investment opportunity, consider this: Atlantic Canada offers one of the most generous R&D incentive programs of any G8 country.

Plus, government policy and regulations are designed to encourage foreign investment in the clean-energy and environmental industries. In addition, three of the four Atlantic Provinces offer community feed-in tariffs (COMFIT) as a means to promote renewable energy.

Total Location-sensitive Costs (US$ 000s)


Woman sitting by a tree

Excellent Workforce

Atlantic Canada has the type of employees you want – well-educated, hard-working and reliable.

Known for its dedication and commitment – as well as low employee turnover and absenteeism – Atlantic Canada's workforce is second to none and offers many advantages, making the region one of the most economical places in the world to do business.

Atlantic Canadian companies have access to a labour force that is bilingual, highly skilled and highly educated.

Nearly 47,000 environmental and renewable-energy industry-related workers live in the region. According to ECO Canada, a trade group representing the industry, this is the second highest concentration of workers among six regions in Canada.

Environmental and renewable energy employees


Atlantic Canada is home to 17 universities and numerous colleges and post-secondary training centres.


The region boasts one of the highest rates of annual post-secondary graduates per capita in North America, and in 2011 there were 89,000 undergraduate and graduate students attending university. Together with government retention programs for post-secondary graduates, this makes for an excellent source of highly skilled employees.

Atlantic Canada's universities have a solid track record in the area of environmental sciences as well. According to ECO Canada, approximately 11 per cent of all university graduates in Atlantic Canada come from clean-energy- and environment-related degree programs. The region's community colleges also provide a skilled workforce for the industry. Approximately nine per cent of all college graduates in Atlantic Canada come from environment- and renewable-energy-related diploma programs.

Many of the educational institutions in the region have created programs geared specifically toward private-sector interests. These programs ensure the availability of highly skilled employees or otherwise create an opportunity to define new programs.

University Enrolments per 1,000 Population (2010-2011)


Degree programs in environment - and renewable-energy-related training:

  • Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John's, N.L.) Bachelor's and master's degree programs in environmental science, physics, engineering and applied science
  • University of New Brunswick (Fredericton, N.B.) Bachelor's and master's degree programs in environmental geochemistry and management and a PhD in forestry and environmental management
  • Université de Moncton (Moncton, N.B.) Interdisciplinary master's degree program in environmental studies
  • Dalhousie University (Halifax, N.S.) Bachelor's and master's degree programs in environmental design, science, engineering and environmental management

Other universities with environment - and renewable-energy-related training

  • Mount Allison University (Sackville, N.B.)
  • St. Thomas University (Fredericton, N.B.)
  • Acadia University (Wolfville, N.S.)
  • Cape Breton University (Sydney, N.S.)
  • Nova Scotia Agricultural College (Truro, N.S.)
  • University of Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)
  • Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)

Many of the region's post-secondary institutions offer students research opportunities in renewable energy.

  • Dalhousie University's DREAMS research program (Dalhousie Research in Energy, Advanced Materials and Sustainability) supports researchers in renewable-energy production and storage as well as the sustainable production of environmentally acceptable or reusable materials.
  • The University of New Brunswick is conducting extensive research into wood energy and cellulosic biofuels.
  • Université de Moncton's K.C. Irving Chair in Sustainable Development plays a lead role in the research and development of wind energy in Atlantic Canada. Researchers have created wind atlases for the Atlantic Canadian region that illustrate how much wind is available and where.
  • The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University of Newfoundland is building expertise in developing wind-hydrogen-diesel systems for isolated communities.
  • The Centre for Applied Sciences and Technology at Holland College on Prince Edward Island offers programs in environmental science, wildlife conservation and renewable-energy technology.

Several of the region's universities and colleges offer post-secondary education in geomatics as well. The Nova Scotia Community College's Applied Geomatics Research program is a valuable resource for both the clean-energy and environmental sectors.

Progressive programs like these will ensure a continued source of capable, innovative workers – an invaluable resource in Atlantic Canada's clean-energy and environmental industries – for years to come.

Annapolis Tidal Power Plant

Strategic Location

Atlantic Canada is the gateway to the North American and European markets.

Atlantic Canada is uniquely positioned as the gateway between Europe and North America. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) provides a significant advantage for investors – unfettered access to the largest economic market in the world, with a consumer base of 425 million people.

Because of its geographic location, Atlantic Canadian ports are one day closer to Europe than any other port on the eastern seaboard and are in close proximity (72 hours or less by rail) to major Canadian and U.S. markets representing a population of over 180 million. With the extraordinary growth in Asia, Atlantic Canada is quickly becoming the gateway between Southeast Asia (via the Suez Canal) and the North American market.

Atlantic Canadian companies export over C$80 million worth of trade to 160 countries every day. Two of the four Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador) hold the distinction of being rated among the Top 5 U.S. states and Canadian provinces for exports per capita.

Canada's Atlantic Advantage is further evidenced by our infrastructure, which brings the world to our door:
world-class, high-speed telecommunications;

  • year-round deepwater ports;
  • international airports;
  • double-stack Class 1 rail service; and
  • specialized trucking.

Atlantic Canada's four provincial governments are collaborating with the federal government to build upon the existing advantages of the region by developing Canada's Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor, an efficient, reliable and secure transportation system that is strategically placed between North America and markets in Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia. A strategy has been developed and over C$200 million in infrastructure investments have been announced that will further develop the capabilities and efficiencies of the seamless system of airports, seaports, railways and highways in Atlantic Canada.

Atlantic Energy Gateway

The Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative is a partnership between governments, private and public utilities, the private sector and other energy stakeholders across Atlantic Canada to develop a regional strategy for the development of clean- and renewable-energy projects. The initiative is designed both to help reduce CO2 emissions in Atlantic Canada and to reap significant economic benefits from the development and export of clean and renewable energy.

The initiative focuses on the development of new, homegrown R&D and innovative technologies related to the clean- and renewable-energy sector.

Green grass and a blue sky with white clouds

Nothing but Blue Sky

Be part of the vibrant, growing Atlantic Canadian clean-energy and environmental industries.

There you have it. Atlantic Canada's strategic location, low business costs, skilled and dedicated employees, robust infrastructure and supportive partners combine to ensure the region's continued growth and innovation in clean-energy and environmental industries. International firms that want to enter or expand within the North American market need look no further than Atlantic Canada.

The opportunities are vast. The potential is great. Find out how you could benefit from Canada's Atlantic Advantage.

ACOA logo and the Symbol of the Government of Canada

Catalogue number: AC5-17/2011E ISBN: 978-1-100-19219-2 ACOA : 2011-09