Solar Power on the rise in Ontario


Moody sun burst hovering over a trough at Kram...

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Dallas, USA – In the same month that Forbes Magazine rated Canada as the world’s top country for business, executives from the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance attended Solar Power International in Dallas to invite environmental technology companies from around the world to participate in Ontario’s clean technology revolution.

Last year, Ontario installed 168 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity, surpassing New Jersey as the second leading North American jurisdiction for new solar projects during 2010.

This momentum has provoked a flurry of investment activity, as investors seize opportunities for expansion amidst Ontario’s growing network of renewable energy generators and for manufacturers of renewable energy products and services. Ontario has attracted more than $20 billion in renewable energy investment commitments since it launched its FIT program two years ago. The largest single commitment is a $7 billion investment by South Korea’s Samsung C&T Corp.

In addition to Toronto, Windsor and Tillsonburg, where Samsung will produce solar inverters, wind turbines and blades, last month the company announced it would manufacture solar modules in London, Ontario, creating 200 new green energy jobs in that city.

This summer, MEMC Electronic Materials Inc. and SunEdison, its solar energy subsidiary, along with manufacturing partner Flextronics announced expanded manufacturing capacity to deploy rooftop solar panels on municipal buildings in Newmarket, with an expectation of generating 400 green energy jobs along with 1.17 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity.

Ontario offers North America’s most advanced green energy policies, targeted incentives and a generous Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program to expansion-minded clean technology companies. Political uncertainty around the program has been erased after this month’s re-election of the Liberal Party for a third term. The opposition Progressive Conservative Party had threatened to abolish the FIT program. The day after the Liberal election victory, shares of Sustainable Energy Technologies, a manufacturer of solar inverters, jumped 11 percent on the TSX Venture Exchange. Solar panel technology maker Day4 Energy Inc. rose nearly 7 percent.

The Ontario Power Authority’s FIT Program is modeled after successful programs in Germany and France. It features North America’s first comprehensive, guaranteed pricing structure for renewable electricity production, offering stable prices under long-term contracts for solar photovoltaic, on-shore and off-shore wind, biomass, biogas, landfill gas, and waterpower energy.

“Ontario’s stated goal is to become North America’s leading manufacturing center of excellence in solar energy production,” says Jennifer Patterson, Senior Business Development Consultant, Hamilton Economic Development. “With the help of innovative companies like Samsung and SunEdison, our province is another step closer to developing a more reliable, cleaner energy system.”

Ontario is home to 110 head offices of clean technology companies that are predominantly engaged in the development and marketing and/or use of their own proprietary technology to deliver products or services that reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts. Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) projects that by 2015, these Ontario clean technology companies will generate revenues in excess of $1 billion. In addition there are more than 2,800 environmental industry companies in Ontario, generating approximately $7 billion in revenue and employing 65,000 people.

Ontario is also a North American leader in the adoption of green energy policies with its passing of the Green Energy Act in May 2009. Other targeted programs available to the alternative energy and clean technology sector include: Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund, Ontario Innovation Demonstration Fund, Ontario Power Authority Technology Development Fund, SDTC Sustainable Tech Fund, and SDTC’s NextGen Biofuels Fund.