Ah, that Samsung deal…

Ah, that Samsung deal…
Watch Tom Rand on Samsung and the Economy

A lot of people don’t like the Samsung deal. There is apparently problem with the fact they are “subsidized” in bringing their $7 billion to the table and creating the first real, large-scale wind manufacturing facility in Ontario.

I love the deal. And cries of “foul” miss the point. Here’s why:

The tar sands are subsidized. First, there are big tax breaks for capital development. Then, of course, no-one cleans up the massive oily ponds nor accounts for the externalities of carbon emissions.

The nuclear industry is subsidized. First, the offloading of that massive $20 billion in debt. And no-one’s thought of paying for permanent disposal of fuel nor de-commissioning of the reactors.

But bring a big wind player to town and subsidize the creation of 16,000 next-generation clean, green jobs and suddenly there’s an uproar. Are they subsidized? Sure – to the tune of about $30,000 per job over and above the Feed-In Tariff (a total of around $400 million over 20 years). What did we pay for saving those GM jobs again …? Oh yes, somewhere north of $2-$4 million, according to the erudite J Simpson in the Globe.

But comparing subsidies misses the point. All nascent industries are subsidized – in some way – to get off the ground. The Samsung deal is just the first domino of many to fall as we de-carbon our economy. Samsung at the table means we’re finally talking about significant manufacturing being brought to bear. It means we may begin to generate the momentum required to really build a clean, green manufacturing base.

Samsung (and the Green Energy Act) is only the opening salvo in building the massive amount of infrastructure to replace our aging grid and to de-carbon our economy. Those countries that build capacity, attract capable manufacturing companies, generate innovation and work to attract and support the cleantech sector — those will be the economies that end up selling clean infrastructure. The rest will buy it. Samsung is an indication we’re moving in the right direction: to be sellers of cleantech.

Did they get a special deal? Of course they did, they came to the table with $7 billion in investment. That’s how the market works.

Here’s a video of TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken in which I debate with a few others on this issue earlier this month.

Go Samsung, go. And may you attract many others.