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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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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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!

Scottsdale, Arizona Solar Energy Projects

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2012

The city of Scottsdale is creating shade and collecting solar energy simultaneously with their plan on installing solar-shade structures in the parking lots of many schools in the area. Through these structures and the installation of pv panels on the rooftops of schools, the school district will cover almost 25% of their energy needs and will save $300,000 every year.

Green Choice Solar, a company based in Scottsdale, recently completed a 1.32 solar system at the Jewish Community Campus, which includes rooftop panels and solar canopies covering 400 parking spaces. This system covers 90% of the campus’s energy needs and will save over $15 million over its lifetime.

All of the planned projects throughout Scottsdale should be complete by this September. This city has been advocating green energy, and specifically solar energy, for over a decade. Green energy is even a requirement in all the municipal buildings.

To find out about having your own solar panel system, click here to find out about Ontario’s solar programs.

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Dawson Creek: Taking Solar Energy and Their Green Movement Seriously

Posted by Admin on June 27, 2012

While being in the centre of nonrenewable energy producer areas in Canada, the small city of Dawson Creek ironically shows signs of a small green movement. The mayor even imposed a carbon tax of $100 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. All the money collected from this tax goes towards a carbon fund, used to fund green energy projects. Last year, the city emitted 3,600 tonnes, so they put aside $360 thousand towards green initiatives in the city.

Dawson Creek takes their green initiatives seriously, and has completed green audits on public buildings, and even installed solar panels on City Hall. They also reduced their use of natural gas by using solar thermal water systems on high energy-eating buildings such as City Hall, firehall, police station, and airport.

Similar to Dawson Creek, Edmonton is one of the sunniest cities in all of Canada and in 2010, it even began offering a rebate program for home and business owners who installed PV systems connected to the grid. This little city plans on becoming carbon neutral, even if they are located in oil and gas central.

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Net Zero Energy Buildings

Posted by Admin on June 25, 2012

Buildings consume almost half of all energy produced in the United States, and the number is growing. The IEA predicts that if India and China’s energy consumptions reach the same levels as the US, their consumption would be four and seven times greater than they have been in recent years.

There have been several plans on improving this consumption, including the plan to use a two-pronged approach. First, all buildings must be designed to consume less energy. Second, the buildings must have a way of generating some energy to offset their consumption. This concept is referred to as NZE (Net Zero Energy Buildings).

The IEA argues that the most effective and affordable method for the energy generation step of the plan is through PV solar panel systems. The decreasing costs of using solar energy have increased interest in this renewable energy generation source.

To find out how to make your property a Net Zero Energy Building, contact us today!

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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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Benefits of Net-Metering to Utility Companies

Posted by Admin on

Electricity companies frequently argue that customers participating in net-metering programs can affect their bottom-line because participants do not generate or pay enough to maintain the cost of the grid. However, there is one example where this is not the case.

Joe Wiedman of Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) presented a proposed standby charge of 5.3 cents per kWh for the participants in the New Mexico net-metering program, which would allow utility companies to recover their costs from their customers spinning back their meters.

Other reports show that net-metering is actually beneficial to utility companies.  Through net-metering, utility companies avoided high energy costs and line losses, as well as capacity upgrades and transmission costs.

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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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