Canada’s federal commitment in establishing a cohesive renewable energy policy has historically been quite low, and the country’s solar leadership hopes to change this in the coming months. During a panel discussion at the annual Canadian Solar Association conference, solar industry executives urged Ottawa to develop a permanent renewable energy program. Ted Lattimore, CEO of Carmanah Technologies Corp., states, “What [Ottawa] needs to do is to put up something in place… and keep it there.” He continued, “Then people will build careers in the industry, education will be started up, and you will get private enterprise money flowing into it.” Lattimore, like a number of solar CEOs, understands that a national policy could create massive investment, and from that, create thousands of solar energy careers and PV training schools offering solar education.
National Incentive Program Vital Step in Promoting Solar Energy Careers
Executives have been operating under the umbrella of Ontario’s feed-in tariff program, which provides system owners and power produces with a high rate of return for solar energy and promotes solar energy careers through the creation of PV manufacturing opportunities. Despite the success of the program, executives such as Shawn Qu of Canadian Solar Inc. desire more. Qu said a sustainable energy policy is crucial “to get the industry kick-started.” Other large-scale solar manufactures may come to Canada, but Qu believes only if “they are sure that support policies such as Ontario’s FIT program will be in place for the long term.”
Solar Industry to Compete with Fossil Fuel Sector
The Association released a report stating that by 2025 at the latest, the solar industry will be able to compete with other sources of electricity. Phil Whiting, CEO of EnerWorks Inc., said that, “Whether we like it or not, the reality is that renewable energy today needs help from governments in order to build an industry.” Whiting is correct. Look at Ontario’s success with the FIT program. The government-sponsored program creates solar jobs, attracts manufacturing infrastructure, and has popularized PV training schools. A federal version of the FIT program would provide the country with an efficient national energy strategy to benefit all Canadians.