With reality itself under attack in the United States, the director of Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District innovation hub is correcting several “alternative facts” recently put forward by TransCanada Corporation co-founder Gwyn Morgan, an architect of B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s pro-fossil government and later the chair of Montreal engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.
In an earlier, assertive defence of the fossil industry, Morgan dismissed as “post-truth” the assertions that “we have the technology to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar energy,” that “Canada’s oil and gas industry increases global carbon emissions,” and that “Canada’s carbon tax will be part of a global emissions reduction effort.”
In his rebuttal, MaRS’ managing director of cleantech ventures, Jon Dogterom, calls Morgan’s arguments “increasingly dated” and “constructed from selective data and blindness to the historic shifts that are under way in the energy market.”
“The simple reality is this,” Dogterom fires back. “We’ve reached a tipping point for renewable energy. It’s no longer fervent environmentalism driving the transition to clean energy—it’s economics.”
The cost of utility-scale solar electricity, Dogterom notes, has plunged 64% over the last decade. Land-based wind power costs have fallen 41% since 2008. “At these levels, renewables are competitive with coal and natural gas, and they will get even cheaper.”
And where opportunity leads, he adds, investment is following. China plans $324 billion in wind and solar development by 2022, while India anticipates generating 57% of its electricity from non-fossil sources within a decade.
The immediate future, Dogterom predicts, will see “technologies to generate and store renewable energy gradually replace trillions of dollars of existing fossil-fuel infrastructure.” Far from the “economic suicide” that Morgan warned would follow Canada’s adoption of a carbon tax, “global demand for renewables represents an opportunity for Canada to become a leading provider of clean technology.”