Green Technology, CO2 Success and RBC high on Saskatchewan

Greener Than You’d Think

With all the talk lately about climate change, carbon capture and concepts such as lean, the notion of finding new and better ways of doing things – or better ways to reduce our impact on the environment – is front and centre. But maybe we should be a little less cynical.

For all the criticism of the utility sector on this front, these companies are the most likely in the country to be employing new technology, especially in the area of reduced environmental impact.

A new study by StatsCan also shows that big business is most likely to adopt what they call an advanced technology. Utilities obviously fall into that category.

Small businesses – those with fewer than 100 employees – are half as likely to be deploying advanced technology.

In previous reviews of this topic, StatsCan looked only at manufacturers but now has expanded its scope and found utilities to be at the forefront of advanced technology, including green technology.

Here’s one other surprise: mining and oil and gas were the second most likely to adopt green technology followed by manufacturing.



Tough to be a Builder These Days

The cost of buying a newly-built house is going down. And it’s going down faster in Saskatchewan than anywhere else.

Saskatchewan homebuilders spent most of the last decade playing catch up. Thousands of people were moving to the province – coming from all over the world and the rest of the country – to capitalize on our growth spurt.

The last year or so, however, has seen the growth in our population slow so the buyer-pool is not growing as rapidly.

The challenge for builders, however, is that it takes the better part of a year to complete a new-build and they had a lot of inventory in progress when the slow down started. So they have excess inventory today. That’s why starts have contracted lately and prices are now falling.

The cost of new home construction in Regina fell 1.6 per cent in the past year. In Saskatoon the drop was 1.1 percent, all of it coming out builder margins. Those were the largest drops in the country among major cities as we look for equilibrium between buyers and sellers.


Moving Goalposts

A new economic forecast – this one from the economics unit at RBC Royal Bank – is stretching the goalposts.

Most of the private sector economists have been pegging Saskatchewan’s prospects for this year at just a pinch below breakeven. One last week, for example, suggested the economy would contract by one-tenth of a point.

RBC’s forecast though is a bit more bearish with a projection of a six-tenths of a point decline this year.

But, conversely, while other forecasters think next year will bring growth of between 1.5 and 2 percent, RBC says it will be better. They think it will grow by 2.5 percent in 2016, largely on the strength of the agriculture sector. Looking into 2017, they expect growth of 1.7 per cent.

The bank says potash production has been better than originally forecast for this year. The same story holds for farming. Early in the summer, the bank was factoring drought conditions into its projection but then the rains in late July produced a better-than-expected harvest. They think next year will be more normal.


It is Indeed Working

After some tweaking, it’s working.

The time has come for the story surrounding the Boundary Dam carbon capture project to change. Much of the coverage surrounding the plant has centred on delays and output, even though most projects of this scale have start-up hiccups.

Since that noise began, which even included a mention in the US Senate, engineers and designers have been tweaking the plant’s inner workings. And, they now have it running at its design capacity.

SaskPower has now run the plant for an extended period at optimum performance. And there were no problems….Boundary Dam’s carbon capture facility is now functional.

Ironically, it has been dialed back a bit because SaskPower is producing or capturing more CO2 than it has sold which gives them time to fine tune this first-of-a-kind technology even more. But the upshot is that the plant is functioning as designed, the first major commercial operation in the world …a significant milestone as one US plant trying to achieve the same thing is two years behind and $4 billion over budget.




Paul Martin

Paul Martin You’ve heard him on the radio, seen him on TV and read him in newspapers and magazines. Paul is a popular keynote speaker on topics ranging from the economy to tapping community potential. His unique blend of communication and business knowledge has made him a highly sought-after consultant. As the Chair of Martin Charlton Communications, Paul is MCC’s ‘go to’ guy for all things business in Saskatchewan. He is the chair of four Saskatchewan branches of TEC (The Executive Committee) – a global organization dedicated to improving the performance and enhancing the lives of CEOs – which has over 50 CEOs and senior executives among its Saskatchewan members. The long and short: Paul knows the province’s corporate community and business economy like few others. He is a potent conduit for anyone looking to do business in Saskatchewan, Canada’s fastest growing economy. His strategic advice is unrivalled.

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