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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Building-Integrated Photovoltaics in Toronto

Posted by Admin on July 26, 2012

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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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.

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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CGC Contacts McGuinty to Suspend Regulation 0.98/12

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

The Canadian GeoExchange Coalition wrote to Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario, for an immediate suspension of the new Regulation 0.98/12. One company has recently laid off 30 members of their team, and will be forced to lay off more employees. Companies all across Ontario in the geothermal field will see the same results soon. The regulation dampens Ontario’s green energy industry and hurts small business pertaining to the geothermal field.

The regulation requires companies to apply for an approval entitled the Environmental Compliance Approval, as stated in the revised Environmental Protection Act. This process would take a minimum of 45 days, meaning all new projects will be on hold until at least the end of August. This is very similar to Ontario’s FIT program, which is now on hold due to OPA delays. “Green” companies are at a risk of bankruptcy and the layoffs have begun.

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Revision of the FIT Program

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2012

Ontario’s completed revision of the FIT program has shown that energy generation and prices fell sharply, about 30% for solar power. This is in line with the worldwide trend of falling costs for global renewable energy. Much like Germany, a global solar energy leader, the decline follows the same trend with maturation.

Germany currently pays about half of what North American solar leaders such as Ontario currently pay per kWh. That is largely due to their gradual decline by reason of the development and maturation of the use of solar energy in the country.

While some argue against the increasing cost of electricity in Ontario because most believe its due to the renewable energy programs, the programs are still high in popularity. This is mostly because there is the prospect of over 43,000 jobs and an enormous amount of energy can be generated without harming the environment.

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Dear Hudak, Cut the REAL Cause of the Increase in Energy Costs: Nuclear

Posted by Admin on May 18, 2012

Don Ross recently released an article in response to Tim Hudak’s potential strategy of reducing energy costs by cutting the Feed-In Tariff program. What Hudak’s nuclear-biased plan did not factor in, was that green energy only accounted for 6% of the increase in energy costs, while nuclear was the largest factor, accounting for almost 50% of the increase.

Ross responds to Hudak by stating that to reduce energy costs, the government needs to begin shutting down the inefficient and costly power plants and urges them to develop a better strategy in reducing costs. He specifically suggested doing so through the closing of the Pickering nuclear station.

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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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Coming to your neighborhood in 2020 – SMART homes!

Posted by Admin on March 6, 2012

Ever wondered what does “smart home” mean? Have you ever thought what kind of new appliances and gadgets your house will have by 2030?

Check out fun and interactive tool which was developed by the Ontario Smart Grid forum – Ontario’s Smart Home Road map - it shows modernization process of our electricity system.

The most part we like about it? You guessed it – solar roofs! But wait, you don’t have to wait until 2020 to get them – contact us today to find out benefits of using solar energy for your household!

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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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