Where are we today?
It’s astounding the progress that solar energy has made in Canada over the last twenty years. From humble beginnings and a hodgepodge of government research projects and incentive programs, Canada’s clean energy sector is booming today. This year, REN21 ranked Canada as 10th in the top countries for non-hydro renewable power capacity. Net metering is now available in all provinces and territories, and support for building integrated PV is also growing. In Ontario alone, 12 research centres are dedicated to alternative energy R&D.
Over the last several years, solar PV installations in Canada have skyrocketed from 790 kW in 1992 to 765 MW in 2012.
Cumulative Canadian PV Installations MWDC
Renewable energy is now an integral part of our energy mix and is fulfilling the important role of bridging the generation gap caused by phasing out coal. The IESO estimates that as of 2013, Ontario will have 1,100 MW of solar PV capacity, accounting for 3 percent of total supply mix. Solar is expected to generate 1 TWh of electricity, resulting in less than one percent of our province’s energy generation. While we still have a ways to go, this is a far cry from 2003, when coal generated 25% of our energy and only 400 kW of grid-connected solar was installed nationwide.
At the time of the FIT program launch in 2009, there was a single module manufacturer, silicon refiner, and inverter manufacturer producing solar PV components in Ontario. As of June 2013, more than 30 solar and wind manufacturing companies are operating in the Ontario. Solar manufacturing now employs approximately 3,000 people, while the province’s Green Energy and Economy Act has helped to create 31,000 jobs.
Canada is fighting hard to develop a world-leading clean energy and technology economy, focusing on manufacturing, resource development, technology exportation and human capital. With the growth of the Canadian and global PV industries, a number of entrepreneurial Canadian companies have pursued technological innovations in advanced PV modules, power electronics, building integrated PV, and manufacturing processes. The development of formal networks and state-of-the-art testing facilities through federal and provincial funding has also increased company and university research collaboration.
Between 2005 and 2012, carbon emissions from Ontario’s electricity system have decreased by 40% due to conservation, efficiency, increased renewable and decommissioning of coal power plants.