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

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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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Ontario Provincial Budget has Passed

Posted by Admin on June 21, 2012

The provincial budget was finally passed, and the threat of election has been lightened this week in Ontario. After a week of heated arguments between Premier Dalton McGuinty and Andrea Horwath, amendments to the initial budgets were made, and the revised budget was passed. The revision included the wealth tax on the people who make over $500, 000 a year which was surprisingly supported by the Conservative party.  This tax was supported by 78% of people in a Forum Research poll taken this April.

Hudak, the leader of the Conservatives, aimed to achieve a budget that could boost job growth and cut down at the $10 billion debt that Ontarians have accumulated.  This new budget is relevant to all fields of business in Ontario. Last May, there was a sudden halt in the microFIT process. Now that there is no threat of election anytime soon, the microFIT program is here to stay and should continue to prove itself as a beneficial and “green” movement.

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The OCAA Opposes the Nuclear Movement Planned by Ontario

Posted by Admin on May 23, 2012

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance (OCAA) came out against the movement for nuclear power this past Tuesday. Nuclear energy is responsible for 45% of the increase in energy costs, while the use of solar panels, and other green energy manufacturing procedures accounted for only 6%.  Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak both are fighting towards scrapping green energy programs such as the Feed-In Tariff (an Ontario solar program), and plan to invest billions of dollars on new nuclear projects.

McGuinty is planning on spending $33 billion towards these nuclear-related projects, and Hudak is committed to a massive spending program as well.  The OCAA believe that the money would be better spent on renewable energy projects because they do not cost nearly as much and don’t carry the same environmental risk. There is also the concern of the budget. Completely refurbishing 10 nuclear reactors will not cost as little as 33 billion dollars, but the OCAA predicts of the spending of up to $80 billion due to the past trends in budget spending when it comes to nuclear energy.

The Ontario Clean Air Alliance was founded to encourage Ontario leaders to phase out nonrenewable energy sources and is working towards a sole use of renewable energy in Ontario by 2030.

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Feed-In Tariffs around the Globe

Posted by Admin on March 13, 2012

The global financial crisis played a significant role to a decline in the Feed-In Tariff programs’ support in Europe while it was on the rise in other countries such as China and India. China introduced its first FIT program in August 2011; at the same time Japan’s Parliament approved FIT in the wake of the nuclear crisis which expected to start running fully this July.

Germany saw an unprecedented rise in solar system installations last year, while cuts to the FIT were recently announced. In the United Kingdom, proposed reductions were ruled unlawful by the court. Spain temporary suspended its FIT in 2012 which attracted strong criticism from the European Commission: “The suspension of all new renewable energy projects will also have a disturbing impact on investment in this sector. How can we plan to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and develop new industries and jobs if we create such a volatile investment climate?”

Back home, we have less than a month to wait and see what FIT review holds for all of us. Will Ontario continue to differentiate its energy mix with clean and renewable sources or will it hold on to fossil-fuel and nuclear dependency?

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Ontario won’t alter local content in green-energy

Posted by Admin on February 23, 2012

n an interview with Reuters, Energy Minister Chris Bentley said the review will be complete by the end of March, and, as has been widely expected, will recommend cuts in generous government subsidies for the production of green energy. Bentley would not say how big the cuts will be, however.

“I am working really hard to get it done in the first quarter… I know people are anxious,” he said.

The centerpiece of the program is the feed-in tariff (FIT), a plan similar to ones in Germany and Spain that pays above-market rates to producers of renewable energy from sources such as the sun, wind and biomass.

The province says the FIT program, which pays some of the world’s richest rates to solar power producers, has attracted investment commitments of C$26 billion ($26 billion) and created more than 20,000 jobs.

Central to the FIT program’s job-creating strategy are local content rules, which require projects that want FIT financial support to source 50-60 percent of their equipment and services in Ontario.

Bentley said the requirement would not be tampered with in the review. “We are committed to those rules,” he said.

Bentley confirmed widespread expectations that FIT rates will be cut because the costs of raw materials and manufactured components have fallen. He declined to comment on which types of renewable energy will face rate reductions and by how much.

“We are anticipating changes to the pricing because the cost of solar modules have dropped considerably,” National Bank Financial analyst Rupert Merer said.

In a recent report, Merer said solar module prices have crashed from close to C$4 per watt to as low as C$1 per watt in the more than two years since the FIT was set up.

He said the province was “absolutely looking” at adding new technologies, such as energy storage or small wind projects, to the FIT program. Wind energy is covered by the program but all projects receive the same rate, unlike solar, where small projects are paid higher rates.

Nuclear power will continue to generate 50 percent of Ontario’s power, Bentley said, despite plans by several European countries, including Germany and Belgium, to exit nuclear after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

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