Ontario Solar Farm Projects Subject to New Regulations

Posted by Admin on August 24, 2012

“The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) launched the next phase of the province’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program.

The most notable change affecting farmers wishing to apply for a FIT project on their farm is a new regulation regarding land classification types. The version 2.0 policy document has tightened limitations for solar projects and solar farms will no longer be allowed on Class 3 or organic soils. This change is in addition to Class 1 and 2 agriculture soil types that don’t allow ground-mounted solar projects.

Other changes were made to project priorities. The new point’s system also takes into consideration factors such as municipal support, aboriginal support, project readiness.  Of course, available grid capacity for the project based on existing electrical infrastructure remains a substantial challenge in many areas.”

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FIT Programs As Key Driver For Solar Development in North America

Posted by Admin on August 17, 2012

Both the government of Japan and the Los Angeles municipal utility, launched new feed-in tariffs (FITs) in 2012. Other jurisdictions that have already implemented FIT programs include Calefornia, Vermont, Washington, Hawaii, Ontario, Spain and Germany.

FITs generally require that all electricity output from the solar facility be fed into the grid. By contrast, under net-metering arrangments, the utility bills the customer for net energy usage. There are jurisdictions that offer both FIT and Net-Metering programs such as California, Hawaii, Vermont, Washington and Ontario. In Ontario one may have both a FIT project and a net-metering project on the same property.

FITs are particularly attractive to solar developers in jurisdictions where the FIT price is higher than the retail rate of electricity, such as in Vermont, Ontario and Japan.

Jurisdiction Maximum Project Size Pricing Mechanism
Washington 2MW Fixed-price based on average cost of generation plus 10% rate of return
Vermont 2.2MW Fixed-Price but adopting market-based mechanism by 2013
Hawaii 5MW Fixed-Price
Japan 10MW Fixed-Price with annual adjustment
Ontario 10MW Fixed-Price
Germany 10MW Fixed-Price with annual declines

For more information on Ontario’s FIT program click here.

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A bold new Canadian energy strategy

Posted by Admin on July 26, 2012

Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Alison Redford united with the other first ministers at the Council of the Federation this week in Halifax. Both now agree that a Canadian energy strategy is a good idea for the country.

The last time the Council of the Federation came together on energy, five years ago, they agreed to pursue efficiency and conservation, expanded R&D for clean-energy research, and more renewable, green and cleaner energy sources. They also agreed that any energy plan should seek to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

At the moment, our country’s economy is growing increasingly dependent on natural resources. They are abundant, today’s world needs them, and we rely on them for jobs. But the world is changing, and Canada must change with it.

A Clean Energy Accord among provinces could help transition Canada to a global 21st century energy system. This Council of the Federation may go down in history as the meeting where the first ministers took the first steps, together, toward this better future.

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Building-Integrated Photovoltaics in Toronto

Posted by Admin on

The Enwave Theatre in Toronto has now completed the new work by glass artist Sarah Hall. She created “Waterglass”, which combines art and solar cells with insulating glass, and it creates bright waves of blue around the building. The west part of her work has 540 cells on 10 panels, and it is a first for Toronto. This concept is called building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Through the integration of solar cells, this method of applying PVs differs from solar panels you may see on the roof, through conspicuous placements such as roof shingles, skylights, windows, or siding. As big as BIPV is in Europe and Asia, this is very new to Canada. This is partially due to the FIT program not designing and factoring in the potential of BIPV projects.

With the large amount of new high-rise buildings coming to Toronto, this is the perfect time to considering integrating solar into architectural designs. This concept also should potentially have its own FIT rate.

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London Prototype Solar Farm

Posted by Admin on July 13, 2012

London Hydro is the electricity utility provider for the City of London and surrounding areas. The company has been exploring ways to integrate more renewable energy sources into the grid. Solar farms are idle at night and only partially utilized during the day. The research activities with Western University have led to the development of a prototype that will be demonstrated for the first time in Canada in December 2012 at a 10-kilowatt solar farm. More information is available at www.londonhydro.com.

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MicroFIT Version 2.0 has Officially Launched

Posted by Admin on July 12, 2012

Microfit 2.0 is now accepting applications from both pre-existing and new applicants. The OPA will commence awarding 50 MW worth of projects.

For existing applicants, those who submitted their applications between September 1st of last year and April 5th of this year will be subject to version 2.0 of the microFIT rules. These applicants must submit a revised application form to the OPA between July 12 and August 10th. Those who submit their applications within this window will keep their original time stamp and reference number and will have priority reviews by the OPA. The pre-existing applications that have not been re-submitted between this window will be terminated.

As for the new applicants, they will also be subject to the new rules and all new applicants must register before applying. New applicants will not be reviewed until all pre-existing applications have been processed. This may take several weeks, and the OPA encourages new applicants to monitor their accounts for updates on their application’s status.

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Revision of the FIT Program

Posted by Admin on July 11, 2012

The Ontario Minister of Energy initiated a directive for the Ontario Power Authority to revise the FIT and microFIT rules and go forth in implementing the programs. Click here to read this directive.

Over the next week or so, the OPA will be revising the rules which will be posted with the new edition of the contract form. The government will instruct the OPA to issue and approve the microFIT contracts, then let in a window of smaller FIT projects (under 500 kW). Larger FIT projects are anticipated to commence in early 2013. The announcement from the provincial government is expected shortly.

Brockville Solar Project to Create New Local Jobs

Posted by Admin on July 9, 2012

Construction of a 10 mW solar project in Brockville, Ontario has officially begun, states International Power Canada (IPC). The FIT project will be sufficient to serve 1,700 homes annually, and will begin to operate in the beginning of next year.

The $50 million project will have modules supplied by Suntech, and the construction team will consist of mostly local specialists and electricians. Final engineering is now underway. The modules will begin arriving at the site this month. This project is one of the first utility-scale projects for Suntech in Ontario.

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Electricity Costs to Rise Sharply by the End of the Decade

Posted by Admin on July 5, 2012

The average cost per kilowatt-hour will rise by more than 50 percent by 2020. While the average household in Canada spends $100 a month on their electricity bills, the average bill will rise to over $150 by 2020.

British Colombia and Ontario residents are already feeling the rise, with BC Hydro raising their rates almost 8 percent last year, while promising a 30 percent hike over the next three years. Ontario also predicts a rise of 46% by 2015.

Ontario and other provinces currently install “smart” electricity meters that use time-of-day billing, with peak time rates during the day and lower costs in the evening and on weekends. While electricity in Canada is comparably low to other countries due to the use of existing hydro plants that were paid off years ago, prices will go up due to the plants aging and inability to support the entire country’s needs.

Regardless of the type of plants that will be built, they will be extremely costly, with the costs being paid by customers in the country.

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80% of The United States Could Be Powered using Renewable Energy by 2050

Posted by Admin on July 3, 2012

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a study stating that up to 80% of the power needed by the entire United States could be supplied by green energy sources in less than 40 years time. About half of that 80% could even come from solar and wind sources, which are often criticized for unpredictability.

The NREL states that the entire percentage could be achieved using technologies already available in the present day. Each state’s weather patterns could be used for maximum green energy generation. For example, the sunnier states could rely on producing more solar energy, whereas the windier states could generate more wind energy.

The energy section must take action soon. The entire grid must be altered, a smarted grid to balance supply and demand is needed in order to make those numbers predicted by the NREL. While this is a study funded by the Unites States Department of Energy that shows a great future for renewable energy usage, it does not guarantee this shift will occur.

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