BC Hydro’s chair on sustainability and opportunity in clean tech

When it comes to climate change, some BC industry leaders are pointing to a green future as the only way (and one of the best ways) to profit in the future.

Mossadiq Umedaly, who was recently appointed Chair of BC Hydro’s board of directors, explained to audience members at BCTIA’s Clean Tech luncheon, held today at Sutton Place in Vancouver, that carbon dioxide emissions have risen to the point where the Earth is in serious danger. A rise in temperature of two degrees is a tipping point, he said, which will mean real suffering for less developed companies and will make the current economic crisis “look like a picnic,” Umedaly said.

But there are options for change, he said. Two thirds of greenhouse gases come from power generation and transportation, and we must become not only more efficient and move away from fossil fuels. But the good news, Umedaly said, is that projections state non-fossil fuels will make up 50 per cent of the energy used to maintain current levels of demand. “Just think of the opportunities that generates,” he said.

The need for sustainable energy isn’t just a matter of money, he said. Security and environmental issues also weigh heavily, as do quality of life issues related to energy availability.

Next generation approaches are needed, he said, but the potential for wealth is staggering. Even the niches will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and not for the short but long term.

BC in particular has an opportunity to take advantage of several opportunities, Umedaly said.

In Umedaly’s former job as head of Xantrex, he said he believed they could harness the talent in BC and utilize the favorable business climate that has grown here over the last decade. Xantrex started with $10 million dollars and was sold for $500 million to a global electric company, so clearly there is opportunity for wealth generation. the BC government has also showed real innovation, he said, through the BC Energy Plan and the Climate Action Plan.

As for BC Hydro, the utility has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change, he said. The company faces challenges, but also will be able to take advantage of opportunity with a supportive governmental structure and the ability to provide clean, efficient power for current users and future generations. Current plans call for BC to become energy self-sufficient by 2016, by becoming more efficient, by buying more clean power, and by investing in heritage assets as well as exploring new development.

BC Hydro’s Power Smart initiative, through educating consumers on how to reduce consumption, will do the most to reduce demand and increase efficiency, Umedaly said. Buying clean power has created new revenue streams and generated jobs throughout the province, he added.

But we can also use our technology and our know-how to not only sustain the province but as exports which will put BC on the world stage for sustainability and energy production.