Some of the largest investments in Canadian history were negotiated and confirmed within the first year since the signing of the Green Energy Act (GEA), which ushered in the first true comprehensive Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program in North America, and set ambitious goals for transitioning away from coal-generated energy. The legislation’s basic approach is that by creating a market for renewable energy, economic growth will follow. The legislation commits to a full transition away from coal-powered electric generation prior to 2014, which has created immediate demand for a broad spectrum of renewable energy power generation facilities and technologies.
In March, OPA announced 510 projects for mid-scale FIT projects (10kW to 500 kW) with a total generating capacity of 112 MW. The following month, there were 184 new private-sector green energy projects, including a 300 MW off-shore wind projects in Lake Ontario – with a total value of $9 billion. Seventy-six of these projects are ground-mounted solar photovoltaic
, 47 are on-shore wind and 46 are waterpower projects. The remainder includes: biogas, biomass, landfill gas, rooftop solar projects
and one off-shore wind project.
The connection between the FIT and the growth of renewable energy production is clear. The number of wind turbines in Ontario has grown from 10 in 2003 to more than 670 by the time the GEA regulations were announced in 2009. Wind output from Ontario’s commercial wind farms reached 2.3 terawatt hours in 2009, a 60 percent increase over the previous year. How did this happen? FIT payments for wind power, for example, are 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour (c/kWh) for on-shore and 19.0 c/kWh for off-shore projects. The FIT also includes both a price escalation clause linked to inflation over the 20-year contract and a “price adder” to encourage the development of Aboriginal and community projects.
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