Updated Ontario incentives fuel solar success

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Since the recent announcement of Ontario’s renewable energy plans, speculation has began to arise about the province’s potential to become the next solar leader. The feed-in tariff — set at an aggressive rate — is expected to fuel the region’s success. 

The FiT for the region guarantees specific rates for renewable energy delivered onto the grid. The incentive is open to all Ontarians, from farmers and factories to homeowners and large-scale power producers. By making the incentive available to anyone – installations large and small – Ontario’s government has provided an opportunity to open up a forceful financing market for solar projects, whatever the size. 

Small PV systems that are equal to or less than 10 kW fall under what the Ontario Power Authority has dubbed the microFIT program. For these rooftop or ground-mounted systems, the FiT is set at C$0.802/kWh (€0.511).

The other various price structures are based on system size and type. For instance, rooftop PV installations ranging from 10kW-250kW will earn C$0.713/kWh (€0.454), while those between 250kW and 500kW earn C$0.635/kWh (€0.405). For rooftop PV systems exceeding 500kW the tariff is set at C$0.539/kWh (€0.343). Ground-mounted systems between 10kW and 10MW earn C$0.443/kWh (€0.282).

There is a separate incentive on top of these tariffs for when Aboriginal bodies and communities undertake ground-mounted PV projects. This incentive is called the “adder”. These adders are capped at an additional C$0.015/kWh (€0.009) for Aboriginal projects and C$0.01/kWh (€0.006) for community projects. The adder incentive was created to entice communities and Aboriginal bodies into the Ontario solar market.

However, the actual adder amount per kWh is determined by a participant’s equity stake in a project. For instance, if a community provides more than 50% equity in a system installation, that community receives 100% of the price adder. Lower levels of equity participation result in lower payments. However, participants must have at least 10% equity stake to qualify for the adder.

“New resources for the community power sector mean that individuals and communities will directly benefit from the government’s plans,” said Deb Doncaster, executive director of the Community Power Fund, in a recent statement.

Kristopher Stevens, executive director of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, said that the FiT and new administrative improvements will be beneficial to community-based renewable energy initiatives.

“Streamlined regulations should remove many of the barriers that have been preventing communities from developing green energy projects,” he said. “We will be closely monitoring how effective the programs and regulations are, and we welcome the opportunity to review them in two years.”

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