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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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.

Solar Myths Defeated

Posted by Admin on June 29, 2012

Even though solar panel technology has been around for a long time, a lot of people find themselves hesitant in adopting solar technology on their roofs due to many misconceptions regarding solar panel systems. One myth argues that photovoltaic panels require constant sunlight. However, in reality, panels mostly require UV radiation over direct sunlight. Even when the sky is cloudy, the panels will function with full potential. In fact, panels work even more efficiently when they’re cooler.

Another myth is that pv panels cannot handle winter temperatures and precipitation. However, panels are almost maintenance-free even in the winter. South-facing panels even help melt the snow and keep it off and still collect a lot of solar energy. They also protect the roof from weather damage. Another myth concerns the visual appeal of installing solar panels. While some may think that panels will dampen the esthetic appeal of their property, in actuality, solar panels can even come as solar shingles for a sleek, black roof. They also increase the value of the property and protect the roof from weather damage.

Some people think that solar panels require a lot of maintenance. However, since panels can survive extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, normal weather will not affect the efficiency of the panel. The panels are easy to clean, all you need to do is hose them off periodically.

Solar energy is efficient, free, does not damage the environment, and will lead to savings in the long run. While the initial investment may seem excessive, they pay for themselves in the long run and save the homeowner a substantial amount of money every year.

To read more about these myths, click here.

To learn more about installing your own solar panel system, contact us today!

Canadian Solar Inc. to Build Plant in Japan

Posted by Admin on May 14, 2012

Canadian Solar Inc.  is an Ontario-based firm and the world’s 5th largest PV module maker. The company has plans to construct a production plant in Japan in 2013, making them the first foreign manufacturer to produce panels in the country. The company is attempting to strengthen their position in the Japanese market, due to Japan’s announcement of the green energy incentive program starting this July. They expect to invest several billion yen, and the project will manufacture panels to generate 150 megawatts per year.

Canadian Solar Inc is reviewing areas affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of last year and is considering building an additional training center for PV panel maintenance and other works to create more positions and help improve employment in these disaster-stricken areas.

Japan set a high rate for the buy-back price, which will be appealing to more people, which should improve participation in their new feed-in tariff program. More foreign companies will also want to join the Japanese market. Due to the tight electricity supply in Japan following the Fukushima disaster, solar and other renewable energy sources are drawing in interest in business and home owners.

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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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New Report Calls For More Aggressive Renewable Energy Targets In Ontario

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2011

“The Green Energy Act Alliance and the Shine Ontario Association have released a report calling for more aggressive targets for renewable energy in Ontario in order to put the Canadian province on the same footing as other world-leading jurisdictions like California and Germany.

The report – “Ontario Feed-in Tariff 2011 Review: More Jobs, Affordable, Clean Energy, and a Brighter Future for Ontario” – is being submitted in response to the government’s two-year feed-in tariff (FIT) review process. Its goal is to ensure that new green jobs continue to be created, that Ontario residents be given more opportunities to participate in community renewable energy projects, and that FIT prices be reduced in 2012 for new projects to reflect the success of Ontario’s burgeoning solar industry and the reduction in solar prices globally.

In addition, the report proposes that the government keep the integrity and critical components of the FIT and microFIT programs, while introducing a transparent and regular process to reduce FIT prices. Another target is to install the contracted but not yet built projects, better communicate the benefits of the FIT program and involve local communities.

Targets are also recommended to ensure that local residents and municipalities are given an opportunity to participate in local, community-owned projects.

“We are calling on Ontario to adopt aggressive targets for new renewable energy that will create a sustainable workforce while giving more Ontario communities the opportunity to develop, own and invest directly in green energy projects,” says Deborah Doncaster, executive director of the Community Power Fund. “Everyone in Ontario should have the opportunity to benefit from the FIT program. In particular, we are asking that 500 MW be set aside for community and aboriginal power.”

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German enviro chief`s message to Ontarians: “Be patient”

Posted by Admin on September 27, 2011

“We have barely reached the two-year anniversary of Ontario’s feed-in-tariff program, the biggest energy initiative to flow out of the province’s Green Energy Act, and certain folks have already declared it a failure.

Part of the problem is that it’s just too early to pass judgment. The feed-in-tariff program, for all its flaws, is part of a longer-term vision that will take some time to unfold. Over that time it will need rethinking and reworking, with an aim to better balancing consumer, environmental and economic interests.

“Be patient at the beginning,” urged Harry Lehmann, director-general of Germany’s federal environmental protection agency.

Lehmann was in town last week to kick off a regular seminar series launched by York University’s new Sustainable Energy Initiative, part of its faculty of environmental studies.

Sharing the experiences of Germany, Lehmann said the kind of green energy program introduced in Ontario needs to operate for a few years before the economic benefits – the true vision of the initiative – become more visible. “Then it explodes,” said Lehmann, meaning in a good way.

What Lehmann brought to the discussion was the benefit of hindsight. Twenty years ago renewable-energy represented less than 1 per cent of German power production. Today this production sits at 17 per cent, and the aim is to reach 35 per cent by 2020.

As a result, according to Lehmann, Germany has 370,000 people working in the renewable-energy sector – wind, biomass and solar mostly—compared to virtually nothing in the early 1990s.

Lehmann urges Ontarians to be patient and stay the course. Now, more than ever, the market needs certainty.”

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The candidates on: Energy

Posted by Admin on September 20, 2011

Coal plants are to be closed by 2014 and Ontario is moving towards cleaner wind and solar power and a smarter electricity grid that could enhance reliability.

We asked the candidates: Would your government continue on this road of moving towards a cleaner, more reliable system? What would you add? If not, how do you propose Ontario plan for its power needs and how should it be funded?

Andrew Miller – Green: We will tackle energy prices head-on: help people save money by saving energy, instead of subsidizing energy and raising our deficit. We will create local jobs by improving our infrastructure, homes, factories, and institutions.

Other parties are trapped in old thinking with mega-projects like nuclear plants or corporate wind farms. The 21st century needs decentralized, distributed, highly efficient and affordable ways of generating energy.
Start with conservation. The cheapest way to address our energy needs is to reduce demand – save money by saving energy.

Then move forward with the renewable energy projects that are more affordable than big, centralized plants. We have huge capacity in Ontario for more hydro, biomass, biogas, solar and wind linked in a smart grid.
We refuse the false choice of killing green energy and setting Ontario back a generation, or imposing corporate mega-projects without community participation.

Karl Walsh – Liberal: The Ontario Liberals inherited a broken energy system in 2003. The Harris PC government had neglected the power system, losing 1,800 megawatts of supply (equivalent to Niagara Falls running dry), driving up the use of dirty coal by 127 per cent, and deploying leased emergency generators in the downtown cores of Ontario cities just to keep the lights on.

Today, we have enough supply and we are transitioning to a clean energy economy. Smart meters do indeed form the backbone of this transition, enabling more efficient appliances and more consumer choice. Smart meters also support a reliable and secure grid, which is necessary for the integration of thousands of megawatts of renewable energy coming online to replace dirty coal.

Ontario Liberals are the only party committed to moving forward in providing families and businesses with a clean, responsible and reliable energy system today and into the future.

Myrna Clark – NDP: The most affordable way to handle our electricity needs isn’t to produce more. The best way is to use less and put infrastructure spending into green sustainable energy.
The NDP will not proceed with plans to build any more nuclear power plants. We would keep and maintain what exists.

The NDP will merge together the Ontario Power Authority, Hydro One and the Independent Electricity System Operator to eliminate duplication and waste and set a cap on CEO salaries and compensation. We will take the money saved on new nuclear mega-schemes and invest it in comprehensive energy efficiency programs and alternative energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal.

We will put money towards helping people retrofit their homes and offer rebates up to $5,000 for such work. We will extend the Northern Ontario Industrial Electricity Program to help protect northern jobs.

Rod Jackson – Progressive Conservative: Wind and solar energy is cleaner and renewable, but not reliable or affordable.
How will Tim Hudak’s PC Government fix this failed energy experiment?
Unplug the “smart” tax meters.
Give small business a choice with smart meters so a butcher’s coolers can run during the day keeping the meat fresh without breaking the bank.
Remove provincial HST from your hydro and heating bills.
Stop collecting for the paid-in-full hydro debt charge on your hydro bill.
Close the OPA and save $300 million spent in six years that did nothing for the consumer.
Cancel the $7 billion Samsung deal that our children and grandchildren will be paying for decades from now.
Stop the FIT program, but honour current contracts.
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