Ontario: a powerhouse for alternative energy, smart grid and clean technology growth

The Province of Ontario generates 37% of Canada’s GDP and is home to almost 50% of all employees in knowledge-intensive industries such as clean technology. The Ontario Clean Technology Alliance serves as the gateway to North America’s $18 trillion (GDP) economy and Ontario-based companies have long-term access to North America’s 461 million consumers. Each day over $1.8 billion crosses the Canada-U.S. border and Ontario-US trade accounts for $716 million of that amount.

As a global centre of excellence and opportunity for developing clean tech, renewable energy, smart grid and environmental solutions, Ontario supports nearly 3,000 environmental and clean technology companies that employ approximately 65,000 people — Canada's largest concentration of such companies — and Ontario ranked first in the 2012 (most recent) Corporate Knights Green Provincial Report Card.


Ontario's Ministry of Research and Innovation invests in an aggressive innovation agenda to ensure the province is one of the leading economies in the 21st century. Announced in 2014, the Province is investing $190 million by 2020 to help attract the world's best scientists, develop innovative ideas and technologies, and strengthen its global R&D capacity. The funding will be divided between the Ontario Research Fund's (ORF) Research Excellence ($65 million) and Research Infrastructure ($125 million) programs. Since 2003, ORF projects have leveraged over $2.9 billion in funding. See the incentives page for more details and programs.

Ontario is focused on seizing global market opportunities and building on the strengths of the province’s diverse culture, creative, highly skilled talent pool and world-class education system. Every year over 38,000 students graduate from Ontario colleges and universities with math, engineering or science degrees.

The province makes innovation affordable through its R&D tax incentive program, which is available to qualified businesses of any size and applies to a range of eligible costs. A $100 R&D expenditure can be reduced to an after-tax cost of about $61 or $37 for small businesses. Canada also has the G7’s lowest costs in R&D-intensive sectors (up to 10.7% lower than the US).

The Canadian Federal Government also supports Ontario clean tech. For example, Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s SD Tech Fund portfolio currently supports 246 clean technology projects with a total value of $2.2 billion, of which over $1.6 billion is leveraged primarily from the private sector. Ontario is the leading recipient of these funds.

For more provincially and nationally focused organizations that serve clean technology companies in Ontario, click here.

Ontario programs support Smart Grid opportunity

Between 2012-2015, GE Canada in partnership with the Ontario government will spend $40 million to develop and manufacture grid modernization and automation technologies. GE’s Grid IQ Innovation Centre in Markham, Ontario, covers more than 9,000 square metres and is becoming a destination for companies seeking to enhance the reliability of global energy grids.

A smart grid is a modern electricity system using sensors, communications, automation and computers to improve the flexibility, security, reliability, efficiency and safety of the system. A smart grid includes diverse and distributed energy resources and accommodates electric vehicle charging. It brings all elements of the system — production, delivery and consumption — together to improve overall system operation.

Ontario just completed a province-wide $1 billion roll-out of 4.7 million smart meters and is in the midst of additional investments in smart grid infrastructure totalling nearly $2 billion.

Ontario's many clean technology opportunities

Ontario environmental and clean technology firms work in a variety of fields, including water and wastewater technology, environmental engineering, recycling and composting, brownfield redevelopment, power generation and alternative energies. A few sector examples follow.


Ontario is fast becoming a global clean water centre and a leader in wastewater technologies and industrial processes. Ontario’s water industry companies employ approximately 22,000 people. The province leads in detecting leaks in underground water mains, extracting value from industrial wastewater and monitoring water quality in real-time. Two of the world’s leading water and wastewater treatment technologies — UV purification and membrane filtration — were developed in Ontario.


Ontario had 10 wind turbines in 2003. In 2014, over 1000 turbines, including the four largest wind farms in Canada, are located in Ontario. Ontario is Canada's largest producer of wind energy and according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association, Canada is the ninth largest producer of wind energy in the world. Ontario is expected to install more than 5,600 MW of new wind energy capacity by 2018, creating 80,000 person-years of employment, attracting $16.4 billion in private investment.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, the NSERC Wind Energy Strategic Network (WESNet) is a national strategy uniting researchers from 16 Canadian universities with industrial partners.


Ontario has the most solar PV capacity online of any jurisdiction in Canada and the 10 largest solar farms in Canada are all located in Ontario. Ontario had no commercial solar projects online in 2003. In 2014, more than 6,000 small-scale solar projects are connected to the grid. To meet targets laid out in Ontario’s Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP), approximately 3,000 MW of solar PV is needed by 2018 and by 2018, Ontario’s solar PV market is expected to drive $12.9 billion of total private investment and create over 74,000 jobs.

Bio Fuels

Investments in biomass fuel supply chain infrastructure are estimated to create about 3,500 jobs and contribute about $600 million annually to Ontario’s GDP.

The Ontario Clean Technology Alliance

The Ontario Clean Technology Alliance includes City of Hamilton, City of Guelph, Sarnia-Lambton, Waterloo Region, Windsor-Essex and the Southwestern Ontario Marketing Alliance. Government partners include the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

The Alliance invites you to learn more about Ontario’s clean technology opportunity. Contact us today!