Ontario feed in tariff project applications reach 15.3 GW

Ontario, September 24, 2010 – Canada’s province of Ontario is continuing to reap the benefits of its landmark feed-in tariff (FIT), with project applications received for some 15.3 GW of potential new capacity in a month.

The Ontario Power Authority said in a statement that FIT project applications lodged during the 30 days through September 13 topped 3,200.

Furthermore, nearly 20,000 applications for microFIT projects have been filed within the same timeframe, of which more than 10,000 conditional offers have been made, the OPA said.

Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff Program offers stable prices under 20-year contracts for energy generated from renewable sources. Since the scheme’s launch in October 2009, clean energy projects have mushroomed across Canada‘s most populous province, appealing to both big developers and small generators.

The incentive program was designed to speed up the province’s transition to a low-carbon economy that should replace its pollution-spewing, coal-fired plants.

It is also intended to provide a source of income after numerous jobs were lost in the demise of its once-burgeoning auto-making industry. The program aims to create 50,000 jobs and transform Ontario into a clean energy hub in North America.

The aggressive government incentives are poised to spur buoyant growth particularly in solar power, but a number of factors are threatening to dampen enthusiasm for growth.

The most formidable challenge looks to be the stringent made-in-Ontario requirement set at 50 percent for large-scale solar projects of more than 10 kW, rising to 60 percent from next year. Large wind power projects require 25 percent domestic input, jumping to 50 percent in 2012.

To add insult to injury, in August the OPA chopped subsidies for ground-mounted solar projects under the MicroFIT program to cool off overly keen interest after the 16,000 applicants to the program vastly exceeded expectations. The incentive was trimmed to CAD 0.642 (USD 0.624/EUR 0.466) per kWh from the original CAD 0.802.

Market research firm iSuppli Corp said in a recent report that Ontario’s PV solar technology system is expected to rise to 257 MW in 2010, up 272.5 percent from 69 MW in 2009. However, installation growth will slow dramatically in 2011, rising by 75.5 percent to 451 MW.

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