Feed-in Tariff, Alternative Energy Careers Live Up to Hype

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In a recent article in the Financial Post the authors make the case that while the Ontario government and its feed-in tariff (FIT) program quickly make the province a leader in renewable energy, other, traditionally “greener” economies are shifting away from subsidizing the industry. “Across the world,” says the sub-heading, “unsustainable subsidies for wind and solar are being cut back. Ontario is next.”

These comments come amid a flurry of interest in alternative energy in Ontario. New solar installations, manufacturing plants, and green careers are popping up all over the region, which now has the most community-owned power generation of any state or province in North America.

Ontario also boasts Ontario Solar Academy, the country’s only ISPQ-certified solar training institution where workers can benefit from PV installation courses taught according to standards widely recognized across the continent.

The FIT has made all of this possible, or at least aided greatly in the success, by offering high prices to producers of renewable energy who tie their projects into the grid. The wary author says that recent announcements that Ontario has the fastest-growing green energy market in the world ignore the fact that other countries, like Germany, are scaling back their feed-in tariffs. However, he carefully sidesteps some key points; namely, that Germany’s price reductions do not reflect a lack of desire for green energy by the country’s public or its institutions. Neither do they imply, on their own, a lack of profitability.

Alternative Energy Jobs – the Careers of the Future In fact, as recently as September, the German government set a goal to supply 60% of the country’s electricity using renewables by 2050. A goal like this could create many opportunities for graduates of Ontario’s PV installation courses and green engineering programs. It could also help establish a proud legacy for daring politicians like those behind the FIT. According to Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, “If we don’t lead the way, we won’t be able to convince other countries to take responsibility as well.” If anything, the problem with solar energy in Germany is that the country produces too much, a dilemma that supporters of emerging green energy industries in any country would envy. During peak periods, the grid has a hard time handling the load. So, while as with anything, solar power does not come without difficulties, articles like the one in FP are misleading. They imply a lack of support for green energy when, in fact, the opposite is shown to be true. PV and other renewable energy installations are par for the course in many countries across the globe. In reality, whether because of a lack of domestic oil reserves or out of the goodness of their hearts, many Europeans embrace green energy and recognize that it must and it will become an increasingly important part of the global power matrix. Critics of the FIT program and renewable energy in general should ask themselves where they want to be when oil and coal become things of the past – exporting home-grown advancements and technologies at a profit or buying someone else’s at a loss.

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