Canadian Rental Service

Snook’s Look: Growing through decarbonization

By Andrew Snook   

Features Business Intelligence

Pain at the pumps…profit on the projects?


We are headed towards a low-emissions world. And while Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 (along with 120 other countries) seems unlikely, many companies are working hard and investing billions of dollars to become net-zero emissions producers. 

On April 1, Canada’s carbon tax is set to jump from $65 a tonne to $80 a tonne in all provinces that do not have their own carbon pricing systems (B.C., Quebec and the Northwest Territories have their own programs in place). While many of you cringe and curse at the carbon taxes when you’re filling up at the pumps (and that’s certainly understandable), aggressive decarbonization could create new opportunities within the equipment rental sector. Let’s look at a few sectors where these opportunities appear to be growing.

A significant part of Canada’s GDP relies on the construction, heavy mining, forestry and aggregates sectors, which many of you already service. Lower emissions requirements sometimes mean companies investing in more energy-efficient light and heavy equipment earlier than previously expected. In the manufacturing and resource sectors, lower emissions targets also require the refurbishing of old infrastructure and the building of new infrastructure. 

As just one example, Dow announced the green light for a massive $11.5-billion net-zero facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., which will become the world’s first net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives facility. This project is expected to generate between 400 and 500 full-time jobs once completed, and somewhere between 6,000 to 8,000 jobs during the construction phase of the facility. If this project needs that many construction jobs, you can sure bet it’s going to need a heck of a lot of equipment. 

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Across the Atlantic, the EU Innovation Fund just recently approved the support of Germany’s first decarbonized cement plant. The fund is putting forward 191 million Euros in support of Heidelberg Materials’ GeZero project. Canada’s cement producers are on similar paths to decarbonization. Holcim (Lafarge Canada), for example, has spent billions on new technologies and refurbishing its cement plants so they will produce lower emissions, and has plans for many more projects at its facilities moving forward.

And what about the decarbonization of the energy sector? Some provinces are planning out the construction of small modular reactors (I’m looking at you, Ontario), while others are investigating the potential for the technology. Long-term infrastructure projects like that will also give the construction sector a boost.  The government of Ontario announced last year that it is working with Ontario Power Generation on the planning and licensing for three new SMRs at the site of the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, which would come online between 2034 and 2036.

The government of Canada announced this past September that it would put more than $175 million into supporting 12 clean energy projects in Alberta, which include a variety of wind and solar projects, as well as the modernization of some of ATCO’s existing infrastructure, hardware and software systems.

These are just a few examples of the many projects underway and in the planning stages across Canada. So while you may have a few choice words for government officials as you pull into your local gas station and fill your tank, try and look on the bright side of a decarbonized Canada, which could not only help the planet, but also create new opportunities for your business.  


Andrew Snook is the former editor of Rock to Road, Crane and Hoist and On Site. 


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