Innovation in the Co-operative Sector

Technology

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Clean Technology

The challenge of climate change and emissions reduction is vital to the future of the planet and the renewal of our infrastructure and economy is a necessary part of combating climate change. In many instances, this involves needed investment in clean technologies, including alternative sources of energy such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.

Relying only on traditional business models may slow progress people want when it comes to clean technology in their communities. In some cases, a co-operative approach can unlock local capital and engage a community to improve the sustainability of energy sources, stimulate economic activity, and provide affordable energy for local residents and taxpayers. In Canada and around the world, co-ops are playing a larger and larger role in the kind of innovation that improves our impact on the environment.

Windshare’s Ex Place turbine is the first community-owned wind power project in Ontario, and the first urban-sited project of its kind on the continent. Community power is locally owned, renewable energy generation scaled to a size that can be accommodated in a city environment – a model that is gaining support as an alternative to large-scale developments.

High Speed Broadband Internet Service

High speed connection to the Internet is vital to social development and economic progress. It’s no longer a nice to have, it’s a “need to have”.

In a country like Canada, urban areas are often very well provided for in terms of high speed Internet connections, but rural and remote communities often face a unique challenge. Many traditional providers have trouble justifying the investment in delivering a great broadband service to rural areas, based on the revenue and profit they can forecast.

A co-op approach can help bridge this gap, creating an economically viable path to ensure that individuals and businesses everywhere can get the connectivity they need. From farmers to tourism operators, students and teachers, high quality Internet service unlocks potential and builds social cohesion.

The Lawrencetown Village Commission set up a co-operative in rural Nova Scotia enabling its residents to install, operate and benefit from broadband services they didn’t previously have access to. The community-led initiative will ensure self-sustained Internet services owned by the subscribers.