EDF EN Canada has now begun construction on three photovoltaic solar projects that will produce 36 megawatts total and employ 350 solar installation and engineering professionals. Originally initiated by the now-replaced Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), the three solar projects are expected to provide enough electricity to power 10,500 homes by the end of 2010 through Ontario’s Hydro One grid.
The Ontario government has stimulated renewable energy investment in these types of projects through its Green Energy Act (GEA), award-winning feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, and streamlined project approval processes.
The first two sites of the three-part solar project will involve installation of SunTech solar panels near Lombardy in the Township of Rideau Lakes. Termed the Elmsley Solar Project, these two sites will produce 12 megawatts each. The third site, the St Isidore Project, will produce another 12 megawatts through the installation of First Solar panels near the town of St. Isidore in the Municipality of the Nation. EDF EN Canada was also involved in the Arnprior Solar Project in Ottawa in 2009.
Solar Installation Projects Pop up As Ontario Invests in Renewable Energy
Another solar installation project, the “Amherstburg Solar Park” will be one of Canada’s biggest solar farms to date. Immediate construction will begin on two installation sites in Amherstburg in Essex County, Ontario. In addition, California-based SunPower Corp. will complete its 20 megawatt, $130M solar project by June of 2011. This large solar installation was also stimulated by Ontario’s old renewable energy investment program, RESOP, under which SunPower secured a 20-year contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Macquarie Power & Infrastructure Income Fund in conjunction with international lenders will buy the solar project to be designed, built, and operated by SunPower. According to a June 2010 press release, the installation is expected to create about 100 jobs.
Other solar projects near Lake Erie, Ontario include large solar farms to be installed by First Solar Development Canada and Toronto-based Helios Energy Inc.
Korean firm, Youil Ensys, has also demonstrated interest in the region, with plans to launch a 6.9 megawatt solar project in the near future.
Believing that these solar projects are “great news,” Amherstburg’s mayor, Wayne Hurst, hopes the slew of new investments will attract potential buyers for the bankrupt General Chemical property in his area. The development could also create new solar installation employment opportunities to replace jobs lost in a long string of plant closures.
In the greater Toronto area, SunEdison and LaSalle Investment Management are slated to handle a number of large industrial and retail rooftop solar installations. Under the province’s feed-in-tariff program, the OPA will purchase the expected 2.1 megawatts of solar photovoltaic energy produced. Eight rooftop PV systems will be installed starting in late summer 2010, with the majority completed by the end of the year.
David Gower, Associate Director of Ontario Solar Academy, believes that this wave of solar investment will play a critical role in the province’s economic recovery. “Not only is Ontario attracting investment in large scale installations and renewable energy manufacturing, but just as important, the province will also realize green job growth from the many small and mid-size installers of these systems which will require new skills, training, and expertise.” He adds, “The Green Energy Act results have thus far been incredibly encouraging.”
Recently the OPA announced a proposed rate change for ground-mounted solar systems that will affect nearly 70% of all microFIT applicants. As if a rate change was not bad enough, the applicants who in good faith applied for contracts as far back as January are going to be retroactively affected by the change should it be adopted. The OPA’s proposed rate change has already sent ripples of uncertainty and disappointment through the industry, with the real damage yet to be done. This rate change has the potential to cripple the industry before it has even gotten off the ground. The OPA has described this up and down rollercoaster as “the growing pains of a new industry”. For those who have invested their life savings in projects or built businesses based on the program this is much more than “growing pains”, these are crippling and quite possibly bankrupting blows.
We are now in the midst of a ’30-day comment period’ before this change is considered final. Together we must act quickly and decisively with a unified effort to contact everyone who may be affected by this change. We also encourage everyone to contact your local MPP’s and inform them of the serious damage this proposed rate change will have, and how it will impact the economic growth and stability in their riding. (http://www.ontariotenants.ca/government/mpp.phtml). We encourage you to make your voice heard by joining the call to action and filling out the petition located through the following link
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