Solar Project Puts Ontario in Top Rank of Solar PV States & Provinces Province Could Reach the Top Five by Year End
October 6, 2009
By Paul Gipe
With activation October 5th of a 9.1 megawatt (MW) solar PV project in eastern Ontario, the Canadian province has rocketed to the top ten solar jurisdictions in North America.
Ontario was already one of the leaders in solar energy development in North America with 1.7 MW of solar PV projects operating in the province.
Update: Giant French utility EDF also expects to complete its first big solar PV project in Ontario by the end of 2009. The 23.4 MW Arnprior project within the city limits of Ottawa, Canada’s capitol, is expected to be in service in December. If completed on schedule, Ontario will have 53 MW installed by year end. This would place Ontario in the top three jurisdictions in North America and vying with Colorado for third place.
With the addition of the 9.1 MW First Light project 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Kingston, Ontario’s total installed solar PV capacity reached 10.8 MW. This puts Ontario in league with Connecticut, Oregon, and Massachusetts, the 8th, 9th, and 10th, jurisdiction in the US with the most installed capacity at the end of 2008.
No other Canadian province rivals Ontario.
Previously, the largest solar PV project in Canada was the 111 kW system atop the Jean Canfield Building in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. It is closely followed by the 100 kW system at the Horse Palace in Toronto, Ontario.
The First Light project, a joint venture between SunEdison Canada and SkyPower will be formally inaugurated October 14, 2009.
The project is expected to generate 10 million kWh per year using thin film panels manufactured by First Solar and 500 kW inverters built in Burlington, Ontario by SatCon.
The projects were installed under Ontario’s Standard Offer Contract program that pays $0.42 CAD/kWh ($0.38 USD/kWh) under 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority. Unlike the US, there are no tax subsidies in Canada.
First Solar operates an existing 1 MW project near Sarnia that it bought from OptiSolar, and it expects to have expanded the project to a full 20 MW by the end of the year.
If First Solar reaches its objective, Ontario will not only jump into the top ten but also be among the top five jurisdictions in North America with a total installed solar PV capacity of 29.8 MW.
There are more than 500 MW of contracts outstanding under the Standard Offer program. If built, Ontario would soon rival California as a leader in solar PV development in North America, far surpassing any other state or province.
In addition, manufacturers, dealers, and installers are gearing up for a boom in rooftop installations under Ontario’s new system of feed-in tariffs that replaced the Standard Offer program. Currently there are some 700 kW of rooftop solar systems operating in the province.