Frontenac County, north of Kingston, Ontario, has launched a new Green Energy Task Force in order to “provide opportunities to citizens, farmers, businesses, and local governments of Frontenac County to be involved in and invest in the green economy, particularly through the development of community energy projects.” Councillors from each of the Frontenac townships will sit on the newly created task force, but the county will also seek citizen appointees with specific expertise in the solar and wind industries.
This is not the first time citizen outreach has constituted such an important component of the province’s sustainability efforts, but the inclusion of farmers represents Ontario’s growing understanding that stakeholders from all corners of the province need to have a voice in future discussions. Most solar projects tend to focus on residential or commercial installations, but because farming communities are incredibly resource-hungry, their input could prove vital to the continued success of Ontario’s green energy push.
Farmers who are interested in exploring potential solar opportunities can find more information from the County of Frontenac’s Green Energy Task Force page.
Green Energy and the Solar Industry Are “Immediate” Priorities
For the past several years, community leaders from the county have explored the potential development of green energy projects, hoping that such ventures could help not only improve sustainability efforts within the region but also help boost economic opportunities as well. However, while such opportunities may be “significant and immediate,” county officials fear that “individual townships may be limited in the resources they can bring to seizing these opportunities.”
Green Economy Growth May Be Limited by Lack of Training
One limitation, in particular, is the potentially inadequate number of green-educated workers, especially those with professional solar training. Such imbalances existed even before Ontario began taking such an interest in sustainability, but over the past two years, the province has benefited from several hundred million dollars of renewable energy investment. While production capacity has grown considerably during that time, installation constraints further down the value chain could limit the speed with which projects may actually be launched. Ontario Solar Academy’s Associate Director, David Gower, explains, “even though installations can be complicated and dangerous, there is currently no required certification to install solar PV in Ontario. However consumers should demand that the installer they select has experience, and companies will prefer to hire those with professional training.”
It is difficult to imagine that an industry buttressed on either side by record-high demand and production would ever face growth restrictions, but in the absence of qualified professionals able to actually install the technology, such a scenario could very well become a reality.
Despite these training concerns, the County of Frontenac is moving ahead. In addition to the new task force, two other initiatives are already underway – the Regional Green Vision Strategy and the Assessment of Renewable Energy Potential in the Frontenacs.