Feed-in-tariff system the most successful renewable energy policy worldwide, studies show
Development of renewable energy eases the high cost of fossil fuel and nuclear energy borne by governments worldwide. The green energy sector is one of the few actually creating new jobs in many of the world’s floundering economies. Both developed and developing economies are benefitting from renewable energy initiatives, the most smashingly successful of which is Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) system according to a recent REN21 study.
The rock star of the renewable energy industry, FIT programs have been so successful that over 75% of solar and 45% of wind energy is harvested through them globally. This makes them the most popular energy policy worldwide according to a recent study. Over 75 countries, states and provinces across the globe have instituted FIT programs in one form or another.
These policies vary to fit the landscape of the economies in which they are instituted, but one lesson is abundantly clear in all of them; the devil is in the detail. FIT prices need to be attractive enough to entice home and business owners to install solar panels, but this is irrelevant if access to the grid is not cheap and easy. Although most FIT programs claim to be modelled on the success of the German endeavour, none have reached quite such dizzying heights. The reason for this is that most residents do not enjoy the same easy access to their power grid as do the Germans.
If a German homeowner (let’s call him Fritz) gets approval for his FIT project, he need wait for connection to the grid only as long as it takes him to install his panels. That’s because Fritz’s microFIT system has priority over all other energy sources. Renewable sources of energy not only enjoy priority in Germany, Fritz actually has a “right to sell electricity to the grid”, according to Germany’s Renewable Energy Sources Act. This means that when Fritz gets approval for his microFIT installation (a process that runs as smoothly as a German auto) he can rest assured that his local electricity provider will be paying him an income in a couple of days. Failing to do so would be a violation of his rights.
MicroFIT tariffs are what attract investors from the outset. They range from as much as 88 cents per kWh in Switzerland to as little as 22.4 cents per kWh in Hawaii. Currently, Ontario residents enjoy a tariff of 80.2 cents per kWh, although this price is due for adjustment in the fall.
During the recent Ontario elections, rising hydro bills were blamed on the FIT and microFIT programs. This fatuous allegation failed to note that the average household pays less than 50 cents to solar initiatives. This is expected to rise to only 70 cents by 2018. This year alone, the solar industry contributed $2 billion and 8,200 jobs to the Province. The extensive refurbishments to nuclear and gas facilities currently underway in Ontario will double hydro bills in the next 10 to 15 years.
Although many Ontarians have successfully installed microFIT and FIT programs and are currently reaping the benefits of optimum FIT tariffs, others have had delays in getting their systems hooked up to the grid. In some cases, residents have invested in their microFIT systems only to be told that they could wait a year or longer before gaining access to the grid. This has occurred mostly in rural areas where archaic electrical infrastructure does not allow for the inclusion of residential solar systems. It is imperative that you get approval and check the connectivity of your local electrical provider prior to investing in a FIT system.
Too many solar installers simply install the system and leave homeowners to sort through the paperwork. The Province is making inroads into streamlining the system and catching up with the backlog of applications. In the interim, don’t let the horror stories put you off. Find a solar installer that will help you every step of the way. Solar installers need to help you to obtain building permits, authorizations and inspections. It’s best if your solar power installer has a licensed electrician who can inspect the system once complete.
Take advantage of our prime microFIT tariffs (second only to Switzerland’s) before they get revised. Owning your own microFIT system will make you money, add value to your home and contribute positively to the environment. Make your own energy. Put SUNMONEY.CA in your pocket today.
The solar industry has helped Ontario stay afloat during the financial slump. Private investment in the industry is expected to reach $12.9 billion by 2018. The success of this burgeoning industry is largely due to the province’s FIT and microFIT schemes. These schemes give incentives to home and business owners as well as farmers who set up solar arrays on their properties and sell the energy generated to the province at preferential rates.
A recent study showed that the solar industry had invested $2 billion in the province in 2011 alone, creating an estimated 8,200 jobs. A number which will increase to 11,400 in 2012 with 25 jobs created for every megawatt of energy installed by 2018, the solar industry is proving to be a real boon to the province.
Although many home and business owners are committed to switching to renewable sources of energy for the benefit to the environment, the FIT and microFIT incentives do make solar affordable to many who would not otherwise be able to install such a system. The ecoENERGY program provides rebates for the home owners who use solar technologies. These rebates are part of the government’s long-term energy plan which aims to reduce consumption by 14%.
The growing need for electricity will require the province to create new facilities and refurbish many of the old ones. By 2030, 70% of our electricity will be generated by new or refurbished nuclear facilities. The cost to the tax payer will be profound. Two nuclear reactors are already planned for the Darlington plant while 10 are being refurbished at Darling and Bruce power stations. The costs of these refurbishments will double hydro bills in the province by the time the project is complete.
Fall 2011 will see a review of the FIT and microFIT systems with an adjustment to tariffs issued to electricity producers. With an election looming in October, some political figure are blaming escalating hydro bills on the microFIT and FIT tariffs, threatening the future of these incentives and, as a result, the solar industry in the province. A study by ClearSky Advisors Inc shows that the cost of the FIT programs to residents of the province is expected to rise to 70c for a typical household bill by 2018. This amount is negligible when compared to the forecast of bills doubling thanks to refurbishments during the same time. The cost of installation and maintenance of solar systems is borne by the home or business owner making it one of the cheapest sources of electricity for consumers.
Solar energy becomes cheaper as technology advances and demand grows. The Ontario Power Authority also enforces a 60% local content law which stimulates growth of the solar design and manufacture. A recent breakthrough by the University of Alberta team (based on research from the University of Toronto) has lead to the viability of spray on solar technologies. Without the market interest in these technologies, Canada will not be able to be a market leader in the field.
The study shows the tremendously positive influence that the solar industry has had on the Ontario economy. The FIT programs have contributed to the growth of the solar industry in the province. Although revisions and adjustments of FIT tariffs is the natural progression of such projects, the programs themselves are well worth the investment. If you would like to take control of where your energy comes from, contact your local MP and voice your opinion. You should also investigate installing a solar system of your own. Use energy you can be proud of.
Pope John Paul II Senior Elementary School (John Paul Elementary) in Thunderbay has installed a new 50kW solar power system under the Ontario FIT program. The project will not only provide green energy for the province, but also a tidy income to the Catholic District School Board, which expects to offset their utility bills by $70,000 a year. Not to mention the benefits to the students who can learn first hand the realities of the new solar economy in Ontario and prepare themselves for a rewarding career in renewable energy.
Ikea Canada claims it will operate the largest rooftop solar power system network in Ontario under the feed-in-tariff (FIT) program. Their three stores combined, Vaughn, North York, and Etobicoke will have 3,790 solar panels. WOW! That’s a lot of Swedish meatballs.
This week we look at two brews which use their heads by utilizing solar power to bring you your favourite beverages.
There’s nothing better than relaxing with a nice cold beer? Wrong! Not when you can relax with a nice cold solar powered beer. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company owns one of the largest solar powered systems in the U.S. Since 2008, this innovative brewery has been putting sunshine in your mug. The brewery’s solar power system consists of two solar arrays. The first is an array of 6 700 Mitsubishi, 185 watt lead-free panels which utilize the brewery’s ample roof space to produce 1.4 MW of AC power. This system is coupled with an additional 2000 SunPower, 220 watt solar panels. This array avails itself of an intelligent tracking system that angles solar panels to receive the most daylight. This increases output by up to 30% and provides shaded parking for staff and customers. The system provides 892, 859 kWh per year. Sierra Nevada brews several varieties of beer it’s most popular being the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Brew number two is Solar Roast Coffee; the best coffee under the sun! Fair trade coffee is passé when compared to this feisty cuppa cooked up by brothers David and Michael Hartkop. The first coffee roaster was constructed from an old satellite dish and a colander and given the heady sobriquet Helios 1. It was made from 100 plastic mirrors and roasted one pound of coffee at a time. Subsequent models were more sophisticated and fruitful, but could not surmount the fact that Oregon has only three months of sunny weather a year. Meet Helios 3; this bad boy was constructed on a trailer, roasts five pounds of coffee at a time and folds up easily for transport to provide the general public with a cup o’ joe on the go.
Pueblo California was where the Helios 3 found its final resting place as the brothers Hartkop set up their first retail business. They now
use a solid wall of mirrors, mounted to the roof of their coffee shop to roast 30 pounds of beans in only 20 minutes. Solar Roast Coffee sales have soared and they have opened several retail outlets around the U.S. They also sell their beans on the Internet and are always looking for ways to improve their Helios. Remember; chicks dig it!