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Indiana Legislator Introduces Feed-in Tariff Bill

Monday, January 11th, 2010

First Comprehensive Proposal of 2010 in US Adapts Rates from Ontario for a “Made In Indiana” Policy

Representative Matt Pierce (D-61st, Bloomington) introduced HB 1190 into the Indiana General Assembly January 7, 2010. The bill is the first comprehensive proposal for a system of feed-in tariffs in the current legislative sessions that have begun in states across the US.

The bill to create a system of what Representative Pierce calls Advanced Renewable Energy Contracts was referred to the Assembly Committee on Commerce, Energy, Technology and Utilities. Representative Pierce is vice chair of the committee.

Representative Pierce had introduced a previous bill on feed-in tariffs in the 2009 session. HB 1190 has been extensively rewritten and has incorporated the feed-in tariffs, or renewable energy rates as they will be called in Indiana, recently introduced in the Canadian province of Ontario.

The proposed rates in HB 1190 have been adapted to the Indiana context by incorporating two tracks: one track with US federal subsidies, one track without. Unlike Ontario, where there are no federal subsidies for renewable energy, some Indiana projects could qualify for US federal subsidies. However, not all potential renewable energy generators in Indiana may be able to use the federal subsidies. For those who may not be able to use the federal subsidies, Representative Pierce has proposed the second track where the feed-in rates are proportionally higher.

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels and the legislature have liked to characterize Indiana as a potential renewable energy hub of the Midwest.

HB 1190 tries to go Ontario one better as competition for renewable energy heats up in North America’s heartland. Representative Pierce has proposed a sophisticated system of rates for wind energy that is based on the intensity of the wind resource. Both Germany and France successfully use a similar policy and the concept has been raised frequently in Ontario. However, the Canadian province has yet to adopt such a program.

Differentiating the rates for wind energy based on the wind resource is used by Germany and France both to spread development opportunity to more farmers and rural landowners than one, single rate for wind energy, but also to avoid the concentration of wind turbines in only the windiest regions. Such a proposal in Indiana would give farmers in central Indiana as much opportunity to develop their wind resource as farmers in northern Indiana where it is windier.

And in another departure from Ontario, Representative Pierce has proposed specific tariffs for small wind turbines like those that would be used by individual households. While HB 1190’s proposed rates for small wind turbines are less than those that will likely go into effect this April in Great Britain, they are the first of their kind in North America.

In other provisions, the bill requires the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to review the renewable energy rates paid to new generators beginning in 2012. HB 1190 directs the IURC’s review to ensure the rates are sufficient for the rapid development of renewable energy without resulting in excessive profits for generators or excessive costs to ratepayers.

The bill establishes an equalization program to spread the costs of the policy across all ratepayers so that no one utility or its ratepayers absorb more than their fair share of the costs of the program.

HB 1190 creates a statewide registry of generators and requires the IURC to issue annual reports on the robustness of the program in meeting the bill’s objective of encouraging the rapid and sustainable development of renewable energy in Indiana.

Before it becomes law, the bill must pass the assembly, controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, controlled by Republicans, and be signed by Republican Governor Daniels.

Summary of HB 1190’s renewable energy “rates”.

  • Project size cap: None, 10 MW for solar PV only
  • Contract terms: 20 years, 40 years for hydro
  • Technologies: most, excluding biomass from forestry, excluding coal-bed methane
  • Inflation indexing: 60%
  • Wind without and with tax credits:
    • Small <50 m2 (8 m dia): $0.350, $0.245
    • Small <500 m2 (25 m dia): $0.250, $0.175
    • Offshore: $0.180, $0.126
    • Onshore low wind: $0.140, $0.098
    • Onshore high wind: $0.104, $0.073
  • Solar PV without and with tax credits:
    • Any Type <10 kW: $0.650, $0.455
    • Rooftop >10 kW<250 kW: $0.600, $0.420
    • Rooftop >250 kW<500 kW: $0.550, $0.385
    • Rooftop >500 kW: $0.500 $0.350,
    • Groundmounted <10 MW: $0.400, $0.280

Interestingly, Indianapolis Power & Light (IP&L) has proposed a pilot feed-in tariff program to the IURC. The IURC has yet to rule on IP&L’s proposal, yet IP&L’s proposed wind enegy tariff is quite similar to that in Representative Pierce’s HB 1190.

At a site with an average yield of 1,200 kWh/m²/yr, the average or equivalent 20-year tariff for onshore wind energy in HB 1190 is $0.104/kWh without tax credits and $0.073/kWh with federal tax credits. The latter “rate” is nearly identical with that proposed by to the IURC for wind turbines larger than 1 MW by IP&L of $0.075/kWh.

HB 1190 Status

HB 1190

HB 1190 Fiscal Impact


Portuguese Wind Reaches Record 71 Percent

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Portugal’s national grid operator, REN, announced at a workshop in late November that wind generation delivered 71% of the nation’s electricity on November 15, 2009.

REN estimates that wind will provide 14% of total generation in 2009, up from less than 1% in the year 2000. Through the 18th of November wind has generated 6 TWh of Portugal’s 43 TWh of consumption.

Other sources of renewable energy have also more than doubled their contribution to generation, rising from 6% in 2000 to an estimated 13% in 2009.

On the 8th of November, a Sunday, wind generation provided 50% of total generation and less than a week later on Saturday, November 15, wind provided 71% of total generation.

Portugal, like its Iberian neighbor Spain uses a feed-in tariff to enable the development of wind, solar PV, and other forms of renewable energy.

Because of the feed-in tariff specifically for wind, capacity has grown from 100 MW in 2000 to more than 3,300 MW today.

Portugal has a population of 11 million, about that of Ontario, Canada.

Workshop Despachabilidade da Eolica: one-page flyer


Ontario Will Pay Farmers 14.5 cents per kWh for Their Wind Generation

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has confirmed that it will pay Ontario farmers $0.145 CAD/kWh for their wind generation under the province’s new feed-in tariff program launched October 1, 2009.

The Canadian dollar is near parity with the US dollar.

The confirmation was made by the Ontario Power Authority’s Jonathan Cheszes in a presentation at the Community Power Conference November 15 in Toronto.

In his presentation, Cheszes summarized the criteria necessary to qualify for OPA’s community and aboriginal adders. To qualify for the $0.01 CAD/kWh community adder, the first criterion is simply “one or more individuals resident in Ontario”. When asked whether this definition included farmers, Cheszes responded in the affirmative.

Thus, if a farmer owns more than 50 percent of the controlling interest in a wind turbine or a wind farm of multiple turbines, they will qualify for the full community wind adder.

As of mid July, 2009, OPA had yet to define how to qualify for the community adder. Community power proponents, notably the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, had focused primarily on the definition of cooperatives and joint ventures and the degrees of ownership qualifying for the adder.

Ontario’s community wind adder is the most significant program targeted specifically at farmers and rural residents in North America since Minnesota’s community wind bonus. Previously, Minnesota had provided an equivalent community wind bonus for turbines up to 2 MW in the late 1990s.


New York Solar Energy Society Calls for Feed-in Tariffs

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The New York Solar Energy Society (NYSES) has sent out an action alert calling on its members to support Senate Bill S2715A, the New York Renewable Energy Sources Act. The bill was introduced by State Senator Antoine M. Thompson (D-Buffalo), Chair of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation.

NYSES’ alert includes 14 talking points that explain why New York state needs renewable energy now and how feed-in tariffs will make it happen.

Previously, the New York State Solar Energy Industry Association (NYSEIA) had called for action on feed-in tariffs in support of Senator Thompson’s bill. See New York SEIA Calls for Feed-in Tariffs.

Both Florida’s SEIA and California’s SEIA have called for various versions of feed-in tariffs in their respective states.

Neither the American Solar Energy Society nor the national Solar Energy Industries Association has explicitly called for feed-in tariffs. Recently, however, the Solar Alliance, a trade association of solar PV manufacturers and developers, posted its policy in support of feed-in tariffs. See Solar Alliance Position Paper on Feed-in Tariffs.

NYSES’ campaign for feed-in tariffs in the Empire State is being led by Wyldon Fishman, the founder and current president of NYSES.


Solar Alliance Takes Positive Position on Feed-in Tariffs

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Posts Position Paper

October 20, 2009

The Solar Alliance, the US industry trade association for solar PV manufacturers and project developers, has recently posted a position paper supportive of feed-in tariffs (FITs) to their web site.

While the industry is portraying the move as a natural evolution of its position, outside observers see it as a major policy development in the US. Previously, board members were split on whether to take a position on feed-in tariffs. Some key industry players openly opposed supportive statements on the policy used so successfully in Europe to install thousands of megawatts of solar PV as well as other renewable energy technologies.

The Solar Alliance is one of several organizations promoting solar PV in the US. The Solar Energy Industries Association, which represents the broader solar industry, has yet to take a formal position on feed-in tariffs. The American Solar Energy Society, representing the professional and academic community, also has not taken a position.

The Canadian Solar Energy Industries Association has previously endorsed the use of feed-in tariffs. (See CanSIA Calls for Dramatic Growth of Solar PV in Ontario Through Higher Tariffs.) CanSIA specifically has called for a system of feed-in tariffs to be used in Ontario to supply 10 percent of the province’s electricity (~16 TWh per year) by 2025.

The Solar Alliance’s position paper begins with a simple statement: “FITs are often misunderstood but can be useful policy tools”.

The document goes on to reiterate the Alliance’s continued support for net metering and traditional tax subsidies to reassure readers that their position on feed-in tariffs should, in no way, detract from existing programs. The policy paper says the generator should be given a choice of which program to use where feed-in tariffs and other policies are available simultaneously.

The Alliance then lays out the characteristics necessary for successful feed-in tariff policies. This is as succinct a statement of feed-in tariff best practice as found anywhere. For example, the Alliance states that contracts should be for 20 years, though they acknowledge that some states may offer shorter terms, and that tariffs should be differentiated by technology and project size. The recommendations also include provisions for developing green field sites and not just those by “site owners” or existing utility customers.

However, the position paper limits the Alliance’s support for feed-in tariffs to projects only up to 20 MW. There are a number of solar PV projects larger than 20 MW currently operating in Europe and there are many wind and concentrating solar power projects greater than 20 MW as well that have been installed with feed-in tariffs.

The position paper also doesn’t specifically mention that feed-in tariff best practice requires tariff setting based on the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit. The Alliance only says that the tariffs should recognize the value of Renewable Energy Credits separately from energy.

The Alliance’s paper represents the first clear statement by the association that feed-in tariffs would be an acceptable policy in the US.

Solar Alliance Policy Recommendation: Feed-In-Tariffs


Ontario Rockets to Top Ten of Solar PV in North America

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

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.


India’s 1.1 Billion Move to Feed-in Tariffs

Monday, October 5th, 2009

September 30, 2009

The world’s largest single political jurisdiction to date, India, has made a strategic move to use a comprehensive system of feed-in tariffs to develop its renewable energy potential.

China had previously announced feed-in tariffs for wind energy only. The country is expected to reveal feed-in tariffs for solar energy later this year.

India’s Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) in New Delhi announced September 17, 2009 new regulations launching a system of feed-in tariffs for renewable energy, including both wind and solar energy.

India’s 1.1 billion people together with China’s 1.3 billion and the bulk of Europe’s 300 million inhabitants –about one-third of the world’s population– have committed to developing renewable energy with feed-in tariffs.

It was not clear from CERC’s press release that the feed-in tariff regulations were in response to the National Action Plan on Climate Change. The action plan calls for five percent of electricity generation in India to be from renewable sources by 2010 and to increase one percent per year for the next ten years. Yet, the move by CERC on feed-in tariffs strengthens India’s position in the run up to the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen.

China’s introduction of feed-in tariffs this year and recent pronouncements by the government are also seen as positioning the developing world, especially Asia’s two economic powerhouses as taking action in regard to laggards in the developed world, such as the US, Canada, and Australia.

Neither the US nor Canada has a climate change action plan nor a national goal of renewable energy in either nation’s electricity supply.

However, it remains uncertain whether CERC would set specific tariffs or whether each project would apply for tariffs individually. In most jurisdictions, feed-in tariffs are specified for each technology or application.

CERC’s regulations are a merely a primer on how to calculate tariffs for each technology. CERC said they focused on setting preferential tariffs for the period of debt repayment while maintaining an “adequate IRR” or internal rate of return. Yet there are no tariffs in CERC’s published documents.

Interestingly, CERC specifies the tariffs before tax. Unlike the practice in the US, where federal tax subsidies play such an important part in project finance, the Indians specify a “normative return on equity” used in the calculations of 19 percent pre-tax during the first 10 years, and 24% after 10 years. This is comparable to the method used in Europe.

CERC also said that developers can approach the commission for project-specific tariffs as well as take the posted tariffs.

If Indian practice follows that in North America, CERC will open a regulatory docket to determine specific tariffs. And in fact, CERC has posted a public notice on its web site dated September 23, 2009 calling for comments on the regulations.

The new regulations spell out what assumptions need to be made to calculate the tariffs. For example, the regulations say that the discount rate used in determining the tariff will be the average weighted cost of capital. Further, the tariffs, defined as the levelized cost of energy, are derived from the specific “useful life” of each technology.

Wind projects will only receive the tariffs if they are located on sites with a minimum of 200 W/m² at 50 m. This is equivalent to a Class 2 or 5.5 m/s wind resource in the Battelle system of wind classes.

As successfully used in Germany and France and now proposed in China, India’s new regulations will vary the tariff for wind energy based on resource intensity. CERC does this in an unusual way. They specify the capacity factor, or Capacity Utilization Factor in Indian English, to be used in four bands of wind power density in watts/m&sup2.

  • 200-250 W/m²: 20%
  • 250-300 W/m²: 23%
  • 300-400 W/m²: 27%
  • >400 W/m²: 30%

The first band represents Class 2 wind resources, the second band is between Class 2 and Class 3, the third band is in Class 3, and the final band is greater than Class 3 in the Battelle system.

Below is a summary of key elements in the Indian program.

  • Includes all renewables
  • Tariffs based on cost of generation plus profit (19% ROE)
  • Contract terms: 13 years
  • Contract term for Solar PV & Solar Thermal: 25 years
  • Contract term for hydro <3MW: 35 years
  • Wind tariffs based on resource intensity
  • First review within three years, except for solar PV which begins after one year
  • Market size: ~1.1 billion people

In an unusual degree of synchronicity, the contract term for small hydro projects less than 3 MW is 35 years. Ontario’s new feed-in tariffs for small hydro are for a contract term of a remarkably similar 40 years.

CERC Notification September 16, 2009: No.L-7/186(201)/2009-CERC

Press Release: CERC notifies tariff regulations for green power


Hawaii “Feed-in tariff” decision to open clean energy market

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Public Utilities Commission adopts clean energy “feed-in tariff” to reduce barriers to clean energy development

By Blue Planet Foundation

September 28, 2009

Contact: Jeff Mikulina 808 226-4987

Honolulu–A decision issued last Friday by the Public Utilities Commission could spawn new clean energy investment statewide through a price guarantee for electricity produced by sun, wind, and hydroelectric sources. Advocates for clean energy are encouraged about the decision-which lays the framework for the new policy but doesn’t set specific rates for the purchase of clean power-although questions remain regarding the whether the policy will provide sufficient incentive to drive major new clean energy development.

“This decision is encouraging and represents another important step towards Hawaii?s energy independence,” said Henk Rogers, Founder and Chairman of the Blue Planet Foundation. “Although it is unclear today how much clean energy this new policy will generate, it puts in place a mechanism that will hopefully prove beneficial to Hawaii?s clean energy future.”

The decision and order issued last Friday is a statement of “general principles” on the shape of the feed-in tariff program. The actual rate amounts will be determined by the Commission within the next few months.

The Commission’s decision, noting that “there is no other state in the nation that is as dependent on oil as Hawaii is” and that oil is imported from “countries that may not be sympathetic to U.S. interests,” addresses some of the larger concerns that clean energy developers had in doing business in Hawaii: the ability to secure access to the power grid and ensure a fair price for the power that they sold. The new policy, called a “feed-in tariff,” will provide a set price and standard 20-year contract for “green” electricity. That means a solar company or a wind developer will know exactly what price they can sell electricity from their project. By providing transparent conditions and a “no haggle” price for clean energy, a feed-in tariff will enable renewable energy providers to more easily calculate whether their project will pencil out. For smaller projects, clean energy developers will no longer face costly and time-consuming individual contract negotiations with the utilities. Hawaii will be one of the first states in the nation with such a progressive policy.

Clean energy advocates, such as the Hawaii Solar Energy Association, praised the Commission’s decision. Blue Planet Foundation

“This decision stakes a claim for renewable power generation in Hawaii that is not utility-owned,” said Mark Duda, President of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association. “Hawaii’s solar industry is pleased that the Commission has recognized the importance of our industry-and distributed generation in general-in the broader effort to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions.”

Through their 128-page decision and order, the Commission adopted a policy that is much broader than the one envisioned by the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO). The HECO proposal sought to limit the renewable energy project size of wind projects on Oahu, for example, to 100 kilowatts, or one three-hundredth (1/300) the size of the Kaheawa wind farm currently operating on Maui. The Commission’s decision sets project size limits of five megawatts for the island of Oahu and 2.72 megawatts for Maui and Hawaii island.

Blue Planet Foundation and other clean energy advocates remain concerned about possible limitations imposed by the new policy-limitations not in place in other jurisdictions. The Commission’s decision caps the total amount of feed-in tariff projects brought onto the electricity grid at 5% of the system peak on Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island for the first two years of the program. Further, it is unclear whether the decision grants the utility discretion to reject projects based on concerns over reliability of the power grid and ratepayer impacts-although the utility will be required to develop reliability standards which will define most circumstances which feed-in tariff projects can or cannot be incorporated on each island.

Many of Hawaii’s clean energy advocates were promoting a more aggressive feed-in tariff-one similar to that enacted in Germany that doesn’t have many of the limitations imposed by Hawaii’s new policy. Germany now has enough solar photovoltaic installed to power all of Hawaii’s electricity needs twice over and six times as much wind per person as Hawaii. Nearly forty places around the world, from Europe to Canada to Australia, have adopted similar feed-in tariffs, making feed-in tariffs among the most popular and successful policies ever for growing clean energy economies. The Commission will revisit these and other issues when the initial feed-in tariff is reviewed two years after the program starts.

Solar energy advocates in particular are pleased that the new feed-in tariff policy preserves the existing net energy metering incentive currently available for home power producers, such as those who use photovoltaic systems. After the decision new feed-in tariff rates are determined, home power producers can decide to either run their meter backward to eliminate their power bill, or become a power producer and actually receive compensation from the utility for their clean energy.

“The Commission’s decision offers the promise of helping to stabilize ratepayers? electricity costs, create jobs, and reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil,” said Jeff Mikulina, Executive Director of the Blue Planet Foundation. “By removing some uncertainty in the clean energy marketplace, Hawaii’s feed-in tariff gives green power the green light.”

Ontario Launches Comprehensive System of Feed-in Tariffs

Friday, September 25th, 2009

First System of Advanced Renewable Tariffs in North America

Follows from the Continent’s Most Aggressive Climate Change Policy

September 24, 2009

By Paul Gipe

(Toronto, Ontario) Ontario today launched the province’s long-awaited program of feed-in tariffs in response to its ground-breaking Green Energy Act.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure George Smitherman, and Minister of the Environment John Gerretsen made the announcement against the iconic backdrop of Toronto’s cooperatively-owned wind turbine.

This was the last in a series of announcements on implementation of the Green Energy Act this week by Energy Minister Smitherman.

The announcements began with Minister Smitherman opening the Canadian Wind Energy Association’s annual conference in Toronto. At the conference’s plenary session on Monday, September 21, Smitherman revealed a $2.3 billion (CAD) plan to build new transmission and distribution lines in the province to rapidly develop Ontario’s renewable energy potential.

On Wednesday, September 23, Smitherman announced a special fund to aid development of renewable energy projects by First Nations (Ontario’s indigenous people), community groups, and cooperatives.

Today’s announcement culminates a months-long series of public consultations on the feed-in tariff program. The program now goes live October 1, 2009.

In contrast to several other North American jurisdictions with weak feed-in tariffs, Ontario’s policy follows successful practice in Europe. Ontario’s system of feed-in tariffs is based on the cost of generation from each different technology, the cornerstone of successful European programs. For example, there are different tariffs for solar photovoltaics (solar PV) and wind energy.

The tariffs are precedent setting in North America not only for the number of different technologies listed, but also for the prices offered. Solar energy advocates will be particularly pleased. Ontario’s proposed tariffs, if implemented, will be the highest in North America. For rooftop solar they will be comparable to those offered in Germany and France.

Ontario is expecting a boom in rooftop solar installations as a result of the program. The province will pay $0.80 CAD/kWh ($0.69 USD/kWh; €€0.51/kWh) for electricity from small rooftop solar systems less than 10 kilowatts for a period of 20 years.

Through the feed-in tariff program, Ontario will also pay the highest prices for wind energy, and biogas in North America. The tariffs represent the best estimates by engineers and economists of what it costs to develop renewable energy under Ontario’s climatic conditions.

Unlike programs in the United States, there are no subsidies from either the federal or local government used in the feed-in tariff program.

In a first for North America, the new program includes feed-in tariffs specifically for offshore wind energy: $0.19 CAD/kWh ($0.16 USD/kWh; €€0.12/kWh). Ontario borders all the Great Lakes except Lake Michigan.

In the run up to the G20 in Pittsburgh and the Copenhagen climate conference later this year, Smitherman has stressed the theme that Ontario’s new feed-in tariff program is just one part of what is North America’s most aggressive climate change policy.

Ontario plans to close all its coal-fired power plants by 2014. It is the only jurisdiction in North America to make such a commitment. As a result, Ontario has embarked on an ambitious plan to become a leader in renewable energy development to make up the difference in lost power generation.

At one time coal made up nearly one-quarter of Ontario’s electricity generation. In a previous announcement this past summer, Minister Smitherman accelerated the closing dates for two coal-fired units. This was seen as a sign that the government is making progress on its commitment.

At the press conference, Minister of the Environment Gerretsen introduced new regulations governing the siting of wind turbines and solar power plants. Wind turbines will have to comply with a minimum setback of 550 meters from a non-participating residence. He also announced that solar power plants may not be built on prime agricultural land, designated Class I and Class II. However, Minister Garretsen said that a number of pre-existing proposals comprising several thousand acres will be allowed to go ahead on Class III lands.

Restricting solar PV development to Class III or greater lands is not expected to have any significant effect on the solar potential of the huge province.

Ontario is the second largest province in Canada. Ontario is also Canada’s most populous province.

Toronto, the provincial capital is Canada’s largest city and one of the largest in North America. The Canadian Solar Energy Industries Association (CanSIA) estimates there are several thousand megawatts of potential solar-electric generation on Toronto’s rooftops alone.

In early 2009, CanSIA suggested that solar PV alone could make up 10 percent of Ontario’s electricity supply by 2025. Such a contribution, about 16 TWh per year, would require the installation of 16,000 MW of solar PV under Ontario’s climatic conditions.

In a survey earlier this year, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) found huge interest in the feed-in tariff program. OPA estimated there was as much as 15,000 MW of potential projects being weighed by project proponents.

To tap that potential, Ontario has embarked on an ambitious program of developing new transmission and distribution lines, including so-called “enabler” lines. The enabler lines will be built in areas where there is more renewable energy potential than the current system can transport. The province will also build enabler lines to areas with a concentration of renewable energy potential that is not currently served by the existing system.

Minister Smitherman revealed in his September 21st announcement the approximate location of 20 new transmission projects.

France To Introduce First Solar Tariffs Differentiated by Insolation

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Also To Introduce First Solar Tariffs Differentiated by Insolation

September 12, 2009

For the second time within twelve months the French Government of conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed raising the feed-in tariff for solar PV in the coming year.

The new provisions are contained in the specific regulations proposed in response to Minister for Energy and the Environment Jean-Louis Borloo’s announcement last November.

The proposed regulations depart both from the current program and from the provisions outlined by Borloo in November, 2008 in significant ways.

The draft regulations propose a tariff for a new application category of solar PV used architecturally. The tariff, if approved, will be among the highest, if not the highest in the world for solar PV: € 0.602/kWh ($0.95 CAD/kWh, $0.86 USD/kWh). As one would expect, this has created quite a buzz in the solar community.

Potentially more groundbreaking, however, is the French proposal to offer solar PV tariffs for commercial projects (systems greater than 250 kW) differentiated by solar resource intensity.

Wind energy tariffs in both France and Germany have varied by resource intensity since 2000. This would be the world’s first application of the concept to solar PV tariffs.

If successful in the diverse climates of France, the concept could have application in countries spanning continental land masses such as Canada, the USA, China, and Australia.

In principle, France will pay up to 20 percent more for solar PV generation in the cloudy north than in the sun-drenched south, for example along the Côte d’Azur.

The final tariffs are determined by the application of an insolation factor that varies by Departement. For example, systems installed in the southern city of Avignon in the Departement of Vaucluse will receive the base tariff of € 0.328/kWh ($0.52 CAD/kWh, $0.47 USD/kWh). In Paris, the tariff is based on an insolation factor of 1.15 times the base tariff or € 0.377/kWh ($0.59 CAD/kWh, $0.54 USD/kWh). To the north of Paris in the Departement of the Somme, the insolation factor proposed in the draft regulation reaches a maximum of 1.20 and the tariff rises to € 0.394/kWh ($0.62 CAD/kWh, $0.57 USD/kWh).

The maximum proposed tariff in the program is approximately equivalent to that proposed in Ontario for similar systems. There are no tax subsidies in either France or Ontario for projects of this size.

Despite these innovative features and the fact that there is no cap or limit on the program’s size, the proposed regulations reflect uniquely French political preferences, charge critics.

In Germany solar PV tariffs are simply graduated by size. The German Solar Industry Association reports that nearly 30 percent of capacity (~1,500 MW) has been installed on residential rooftops, and another 50 percent (~2,500 MW) installed on farm buildings and multi-family residences.

Thus, say critics, the Tuetonic program is more egalitarian than that in the land of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

In contrast to German policy, the proposed French program, will severely limit residential solar systems, charge two of France’s most prominent advocates of solar energy: Hespul and CLER (Comité de Liaison Energie Renouvelables).

Hespul, located in France’s solar city of Lyon, specializes in energy efficiency and solar PV. (Hespul installed the first grid-connected solar PV system in France.) CLER is the principal umbrella group representing the renewable energy industry and solar advocates.

The two organizations issued a joint communiqué September 10, 2009 applauding the proposal for its innovative features, but criticizing its shortsightedness. The proposal fell well short of what’s needed, they said, and unduly favors multi-national developers over small distributed generators.

Residential rooftop solar systems are limited to less than 3 kW and the tariff, € 0.338 ($0.52 CAD/kWh, $0.47 USD/kWh), is insufficient in much of France, says Hespul’s Marc Jedliczka, even with tax subsidies. He warns that the current proposal will miss reaching the 14 million French rooftops that could use solar.

For its part, CLER characterized the proposed tariffs as “unfair to the many for the benefit of the few.”

Further, the French program has odd twists that limit the effectiveness of solar. In a bow to misplaced aesthetic sentiments, rooftop panels must be in the “plane of the roof.” Often that will mean the panels must be flat and not mounted on racks.

These oddities greatly restrict the solar PV market in France, said Hespul and CLER.

The regulations must be approved by Minister Borloo sometime this fall to take effect in January, 2010.