Grey skies for the green energy industry

The green energy boom, once powered by government stimulus, is crashing—nowhere more painfully than in Canada

Solar flame-out

Getty Images; Photo Illustration by Taylor Shute

Solar panel manufacturer Siliken opened its Canadian manufacturing facility in Windsor, Ont., last spring. The Spanish company hired 120 staff and expected to add more as it ramped up production of photovoltaic panels over the next year. It was a good news story for Windsor, hit hard by the recession and layoffs in the automotive industry, and it suggested Ontario’s ambitious plan to replace traditional rust-belt manufacturing jobs with those in the emerging “clean tech” sector was bearing fruit.

But barely 12 months later, Siliken decided to close its doors and fire workers. It blamed the Ontario government for luring it to Canada with rich incentives, only to suddenly turn off the taps. “I compare it to being invited for dinner, but when you turn up there is no food,” says Paco Caudet, Siliken Canada’s general manager, referring to the province’s Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) program. It was introduced in 2009 and promised to pay some of the highest rates in the world for electricity generated by solar, wind and other renewable resources. At least that was the case until the province slammed the brakes on the program last fall, announcing a review and, later, sweeping proposed changes that included a more than 20 per cent cut in the price paid for solar power.

It was a setback. But the real damage was yet to come. With no new contracts approved since Oct. 31, and no official word on when the program will be restarted, many in the once-roaring industry have suddenly found themselves struggling for survival. In addition to Siliken, a wind turbine company called WindTronics shuttered its Windsor plant earlier this year, while Guelph, Ont.-based Canadian Solar, which has operations in Asia and Europe, is trying to cut costs. And installers of solar panels and other equipment across the province are dropping like flies (although many are reluctant to point a finger at the province lest it harm their chances of snaring a future contract).

“The government isn’t entirely to blame, but the stops and starts in the program have put a lot of additional pressure on folks who are trying to make businesses work,” says Fidel Reijerse, the president of RESco Energy in Mississauga, Ont., which builds solar arrays for commercial and institutional customers.

Nor is it just a Canadian phenomenon. Bankruptcies of solar and wind outfits in the United States and Europe are becoming increasingly common as subsidies dwindle amid shifting political and economic winds. While paying top dollar for renewable energy seemed like a good stimulus tool during the depths of the recession, and kept the industry in a heady buzz, it suddenly looks more like an unaffordable extravagance in an age of austerity. A green hangover has set in.

Ontario’s stratospherically high prices for green power were designed to lure investment and to ensure enough generating capacity to compensate for the shutdown of the province’s coal-fired power plants in 2014. The top price paid for electricity for small rooftop solar arrays was, until recently, 80.2 cents a kilowatt hour. By contrast, the market price on a recent afternoon was 2.06 cents per kilowatt hour. (Homeowners would pay closer to eight cents because of the way the province’s regulated energy pricing system works.)

Not surprisingly, the rich subsidies worked—possibly too well. A stampede of solar, wind and other operators descended on Ontario beginning in 2009, when the province’s Green Energy Act came into force. So far, some 2,500 projects have been approved, enough to power 1.2 million homes. The program has attracted some $27 billion to the province and created more than 20,000 jobs, according to the Ministry of Energy.

But critics say the gains are more than offset by forecasts that Ontarians’ electricity bills will jump by eight per cent annually over the next five years. And they point to studies which suggest for every job created through renewable energy programs, another two to four jobs are lost elsewhere. “At just the time when we need to make Ontario more competitive, the current policies are driving up the price of electricity,” Tim Hudak, the leader of the provincial Conservative party, recently quipped. Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government responded earlier this month by offering big companies investing in Ontario a 27 per cent cut in their hydro rates. The debate is being followed closely in other provinces, many of which have yet to heavily invest in renewable energy sources.

South of the border, green energy has also become a political flashpoint. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney recently stood in front of Solyndra’s shuttered plant in Fremont, Calif., and tried to link the company’s bankruptcy with President Barack Obama’s record on the economy. Solyndra was the first renewable energy producer to receive stimulus cash in 2009, about US$528-million worth, and has since become an embarrassment for Obama, who once visited the factory to tout the program. Meanwhile, a glut of solar panels in the U.S. has pushed down prices and led to accusations of dumping by Chinese firms. The U.S. government put in place new tariffs on Chinese solar panels earlier this year.

Even in Europe, where being green has long enjoyed significant voter support, the bloom is coming off the rose as the region grapples with a deepening debt crisis. Spain’s government effectively pulled the plug on the industry last January when it ended its lavish subsidy programs. And Germany is slowly backing away from commitments to the sector, which was supposed to help fill the void as nuclear plants are phased out by 2022. Critics say the eurozone’s strongest economy is at risk of getting sucked under if it continues paying exorbitant amounts for renewable energy because it makes businesses less competitive. Some estimates suggest solar subsidies alone cost German consumers nearly $130 billion annually. Nor are Germans getting much bang for their buck. A report in Der Spiegel suggested that Germany’s 1.1 million solar power systems went weeks without generating any power last winter, causing members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s own staff to call the projects a massive money pit. Jürgen Grossmann, the head of German power company RWE (which sources a quarter of its energy from nuclear plants), was equally as blunt. He compared subsidizing solar power in Germany to “growing pineapples in Alaska.”

With government priorities shifting, green tech companies everywhere are now facing a double whammy: declining demand for their products and stiff competition from increasingly desperate firms. The results aren’t pretty. In Germany alone, three solar companies—Solon, Solar Millennium and Solarhybrid—have filed for bankruptcy since December. Jean-Louis Bal, the head of France’s Renewable Energy Association, recently noted that production capacity in the photovoltaic industry is “about double the estimated market size, and inventories represent about one year of sales,” adding that “there are a lot of manufacturers, including large Chinese players, in financial difficulties.”

There is little doubt many green energy programs burned too hot, too fast, with one observer calling the past few years in Ontario “a sort of Wild West.” Now, with the province dialling things back—rooftop solar will be priced at 54.8 cents per kilowatt hour instead of 71.3 cents for systems producing around 100 kilowatts, according to a set of draft rules released in April—many fear the pendulum is about to swing too far in the other direction, knocking over the industry in the process.

Caudet says a combination of wavering political support and a blanket of red tape caused Siliken to sink in Canada. He argues it takes longer to get project approvals in Ontario than it does in Greece, a country known for its stifling bureaucracy. He also blames a lack of public awareness in Canada about renewable energy. “People believe that solar costs 80 cents (a kilowatt hour), and that we live off subsidies. But they don’t know what nuclear is costing us,” he says of the cheap electricity it produces and the costs associated with safely disposing of spent fuel.

Clearly the green party is over—at least for now. The question is whether governments in Canada and elsewhere will let the industry die on the vine. Though the proposed changes to Ontario’s FIT program will still offer above-market rates, the mounting frustration over the drawn-out review process serves as a reminder of just how dependent the industry is on government subsidies to survive. A spokesperson for the Ontario Power Authority says the final revised rules will be “released shortly.”

Rupp Carriveau, an associate professor in the University of Windsor’s department of civil and environmental engineering, calls it a “critical time for the industry” and urges Canadians to take a long-term view. Sure, clean sources of power look overly expensive right now, he says, “but by the time the market indicators tell us it’s affordable, people will be at each others’ throats for the last tank of gas.”


Grey skies for the green energy industry

  1. “By the time the market indicators tell us it’s affordable, people will be at each others’ throats for the last tank of gas.”

  2. CORRECTION – NO new contracts since AUGUST 31st, 2011!!

  3. Both the 80 cent and the 2 cent figures are vastly misleading. Virtually no solar qualifies for the 80 cent price, average price paid is half that and going down, includes not only the electricity but the transmission, delivery, metering, and all fixed costs (typically half or more the final cost of electricity) and is only delivered during peak periods, summer daytime, at time at which utilities pay a large multiple of usual prices. New wind and new nuclear are now the same price on a 20-year basis – new nuclear costs over 8 cents with price increases planned every year. And wind is a lot more flexible when demand is low. The 2 cents is a market artifact for surplus electricity – most electricity is priced by contract and electricity prices are determined mostly by those contracts not by the market for uncontracted surpluses.

    The “study” that keeps on being quoted for job losses from green jobs was never taken seriously by anyone, given its funding sources, methodological problems, and many dozens of serious studies that get opposite results from the same data. It also doesn’t apply to Ontario – it presumes that industrial electricity rates go up but in Ontario they have not gone up they have gone down – large power users take part in demand response programs and coincident peak pricing. It is like time-of-use pricing but with a vengeance – if they reduce their usage during peak periods, when decreasing demand is cheaper than increasing supply, then their electricity costs go down by as much as 50%. And by the way as the Fraser Institute itself also pointed out the job losses if they did happen would not be in Ontario but in places like Alberta and China, as money previously spent for fossil fuel is spent on other things including local products and services.

    • Where in God’s name do you live that you think hydro rates in Ontario have gone down? If you live in Ontario, you must have an accountant or bookkeeper who pays your bills for you, because everyone else in this province have seen their power bills skyrocketing.
      We’re losing mass numbers of manufacturers who are leaving the province due to high power rates, that’s why McGuinty brought in the 27 per cent break for industries. We have lost jobs in Ontario and much of it is due to our hydro rates driving industry out of the province.

      • “Where in God’s name do you live that you think hydro rates in Ontario have gone down?”

        That’s not what he said, he said, and I quote, “industrial electricity rates go up but in Ontario they have not gone up they have gone down”

        See that “industrial” in there? That is key; industrial users normally pay the wholesale rate, which have indeed gone down. Go look at the ieso web page, they update the numbers continually.

        What has gone *up* is the “global adjustment” and the “debt retirement charge”. What are those?

        The first is the difference between local cost of production and the grid prices elsewhere. When the economy collapsed in 2008, so did the price of electricity. So we sell power from the nukes at 6.5 cents/kWh on a long-term-purchase-agreement (basically identical to FIT in all but name), but only get paid about 3 cents for it. So who pays the difference? You do, as the global adjustment.

        To put some numbers to this, the wholesale price of electricity declined 16.9% in 2011, but the global adjustment climbed a whopping 46.9%.

        I have seen you repeatedly claim that it’s dumb for Ontario to sell power at negative prices. But, contrary to your assumptions, the vast majority of those “negative economics” are due to overproduction from the nukes. Yes, it is true that wind makes the problem even worse, but as you point out, that’s only “2.7%” of the power in the province, so clearly it has no real effect. Right? I’m open to your math suggesting otherwise.

        It is, in fact, a reduction in the GA that most industrial users have been given. Additionally, newly expanding facilities can get an exception to the entire payment. As a result, industrial electricity prices, for some users at least, have indeed fallen. But don’t take my word for it:


        The other fee, largely, is due to Darlington’s massive cost overruns, and to a lesser extent Eves’ attempt to lock power prices at artificially low rates, which drove the entire system deeply into debt. They moved all of that 21 billion or so into a 3rd party spin-off company, and you pay them a fee with every bill. We’ll pay it off someday, or maybe we already have? No one seems to agree.

        Together, those two charges, have raised the resulting bill *you* pay. Its effect on industrial users is another matter entirely. Or as Tom put it so cleanly:

        “Previously, large industrial customers complained about the overall costs of wind. When the government started shifting Global Adjustment in 2011, the industrials began seeing that wind power cut their bills by suppressing market prices. Now, industrial consumers benefit as wind power costs ramp up for ordinary consumers.”So don’t worry Laura, industry is perfectly happy with wind. You can be rightly concerned about *your* bill, however.

    • So I guess there is some other reason for the total failure of the green energy sector.

  4. It’s because there can be no “green” economy. It just isn’t based in reality, it was all government and complicit media hype, all so that everyone could say how “green” they are. And now that the money is gone and wasted, and all the “we told you so”‘s are out of the way, we’re stuck with paying for the lessons that some were too dull or ignorant to understand.

    Our economy is based on nuclear, coal and oil. If you don’t like it, tough.

    • Your fossil-fuel-based economy is facing collapse. What will you do when the oil is gone and the radioactive waste is stored in YOUR backyard? Mountain-top removal of coal and the associated health risks of burning huge quantities of coal will be the end of it all. You can’t eat money so start making something better with your economy.

      • Ian, coal can be burnt cleanly now. “Clean coal” is not an oxymoron, it’s a reality. And we’ve got coal galore.

        • where do you burn coal cleanly? In your dreams? Why don’t you move right next to a cola plant and let your children play outside for a summer? Maybe you will even get some of the subsidies that coal, the oil industry and nuclear are massively supported with every year WITH YOUR HYDRO BILL!!!

          • just as you don’t live beside a steel mill or a cement plant or a saw mill you don’t live beside a “cola” plant.

          • And you know why nobody lives right next to either one of these plants Dave? Because they are dirty, dangerous and pollute the air and the environment
            You can’t burn coal cleanly, that absolutely ridiculous. And yes, I misspelled coal as “cola”. I think you still get what I meant.

    • It’s based on those things because of the huge subsidies that nuclear, coal, and oil currently enjoy. Subsidies that dwarf those any green energy was getting.

      • Oil and coal don’t get huge subsidies. Just because that fallacy is repeated endlessly in comments sections doesn’t make it true.

        • You’re right, statements in a comments section doesn’t make it true. What makes it true is repeated major studies that demonstrate the statement of fact. You know, like:




          All in all, the US spends about $15 billion a year on direct subsidies to coal and oil, and as much as $55-75 billion if one includes soft costs like defending shipping routes and such.

          In comparison, the US spends about $400 million a year on renewables – but much of that is towards pure research and development as opposed to production subsidies.

          One might argue that the relative subsidy compared to the amount of power output is higher for renewables, and that is demonstrably true, but that’s not what you’re complaining about. Even if one grasps that straw, you need to put it in historical context – during the introduction of oil power in the US, the subsidies were about 5 times that what renewables are getting today, on an inflation-adjusted and power-adjusted (i.e., “fair”) basis. It’s discussed in some depth in the Yale paper.

          I would argue that the number stands to match most reasonable definitions of “huge”, and that it is certainly huge in relative terms. Do you disagree with either conclusion, or the statements of fact?

          And what is this about a fallacy? Are you sure you are using that term correctly? You are using it in the context of “false statements of fact”, which leads me to believe you need a quick refresher over on the Wikipedia.

        • Exploration tax credit, to name one.

  5. Not only is wind energy the most inefficient source of power out there, it is also the most unreliable. In Ontario, it is an absolute financial nightmare. Last week, when demand reached 22,000 megawatts in Ontario, wind power was contributing just 77 megawatts. For all of the billions and billions of dollars that we have poured into this useless form of energy, all we get in return is a paultry .0032% of production. You don’t have to be a genius to see that wind is a fiasco of the highest order.
    We’ve sacrificed prime farmland, some of the most pristene fragile biospheres, turned neighbour against neighbour, driven families from their homes, brought already endangered species closer to extinction for what??? .0032%. The McGuinty government should be hanging it’s head in shame for this appallingly abusive green energy abyss.
    As well, wind is the most material intensive energy source requiring ten times more steel, copper and cement per MWhr than any other source. — Forbes magazine
    Time to put this boondoggle out of its misery and save what little is left of a once magnificent province.

    • It took a bit of detective work, but it looks like you are trying to draw conclusions from something that happened at 1 pm on July 6. On average during the year, wind produces more electricity than coal in Ontario. Wind energy is not a peak-following power source during the summer, although it is a good match for winter peaks. Solar is a good match for summer peaks, it only produces at peak times. You need a variety of different power sources with different characteristics in order to have a stable reliable system. And that is what has finally been built in recent years, one that is not continually close to collapse.

      Although picking one specific hour out of the year in order to prove a point is not very convincing, in that particular hour there was still plenty of spare capacity. Hydro was being used at half of its total capacity, the small amount of remaining coal was at 75%. gas at 80% and other combustion at 25%. There was no undue strain on the system and the thousands of megawatts of more expensive capacity (more expensive than wind) didn’t have to be used. Luckily unlike those other resources the only money they get if from the electricity they produce. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong for giving nuclear, gas, and coal plants money for electricity that they don’t produce, but the variety of contracts and characteristics of different power sources makes it difficult to compare one to the other – you need a well regulated mix.

      • Whether we had excess is not the point. And it didn’t just happen on one day, but on several days last week. Coal generates 2.6% of all energy in the province, wind is just slightly ahead at 2.7%. For all of the billions and billions of dollars that wind has cost us — to only get that much generation — is a massive financial failure in even the most rudimentary math class.

        And you made an excellent point. We do have an excess of power, which we regularly PAY the United States and Quebec to take off of our hands. Again, only a Liberal would look at that and say it makes good financial sense.

        Ontario is a resource rich province. We have an abundance of hydro, of gas and the largest nuclear facility in the world. We would be far better ahead to spend all of that money on truly green renewable energy than to keep sinking it into the abyss of wind.

      • Wind produces more energy than coal because of McGuinty’s insistence on doing away with coal plants, thus ignoring the most efficient and economical source of energy available.

  6. The professor is, regrettably, like all of his ilk: out on a limb and out of touch. This chap doesn’t read outside his narrow socio-political spectrum: Green energy good, fossil bad, and when it goes, you’ll be sorry! Green Energy is not only overly expensive, but also overly inefficient and dirty. He doesn’t know that? Does he need to be whacked by a turning turbine? The looney left has acolytes everywhere, especially in academia: TAKE ARABLE LAND OUT OF PRODUCTION because deep-fried turbine blades and ultra-toxic solar panels are nutritious and delicious! This guy gets paid by tax dollars; he’s part of a subsidized industry. No wonder he loves the “Green is Clean” mantra. Here’s an eye opener: Clean energy is less energy; that is, reduce consumption through improved technologies for building and retrofitting, for production, etc…

    • Finally someone with a little bit of sense! I’d much rather have a clean and safe nuclear or coal power plant in my neighbourhood than one of those ultra-toxic solar panels, like my cousin in Japan or my Great Uncle in the Ukraine!!!

      I heard many many people have died because of the toxic solar panels and those dangerous wind turbines! And a report, supposedly written by someone somewhere supports my arguments!
      Green is stupid because I don’t understand it and everyone who says the opposite is a looney.

      One thing I actually disagree with: Reducing consumption is totally stupid and makes no sense whatsoever…

  7. For anyone reading the comments, be weary of the anti-renewable lobby – People paid to keep the renewable energy industry down as they realize how cost competitive renewables are becoming.

    FIT subsidies are responsible for only a tiny percentage of electricity increases – blame aging infrastructure and the cost of upgrading / refurbishing renewables. If there was no FIT – you’d still end up paying more.

    People seem to negate the most important part about renewables – once connected – they generate electricity almost indefinitely – provided appropriate maintenance. There is no cost of fuel, no overpaid employees (OPG), and no costly refurbishments that put multi-MW plants offline for years at a time. Also, there’s no radioactive waste for thousands of years.

    The FIT program has been very poorly managed, but what it has done was identify many of the challeneges and infrastructure deficiencies that we will be required to fix for a shift to renewables and deploy-able energy storage. Global trends are very clear – fossil fuel prices are increasing – renewable energy costs are decreasing – eventually we hit the tipping point which is RAPIDLY approaching. When that happens, Ontarians need to be ready … Not ages behind. Investment in the program now is a VERY smart path for Ontario and hopefully when the review is completed, we will have a fair and effective method for renewable generation that puts projects and the associated revenue in the hands of the communities they serve.

    • Paragraph 2 – blame aging infrastructure and the cost of upgrading / refurbishing *NUCLEAR

    • “once connected – they generate electricity almost indefinitely” — meaning until the end of their 20 year life span. Then what?
      Meanwhile, the production of wind turbines alone is an environmental disaster. Vestas wind manufacturer, in their own internal report, states that one ton ( ONE TON) of toxic and hazardous waste is generated during the production of every single turbine blade.
      Then there’s the mega-ton concrete base needed to support these industrial machines, that is so massive and costly to take out, that they cover it over and leave it to leach into the soil for the next few centuries.
      And I haven’t even touched on Bisphenol A. Or the mining of neodymium and the precious farmland in China that is now covered in lakes of highly toxic poison due to the extraction process.
      But lets continue spreading the myth that just because something is erroneously labelled ‘green’ that everyone should turn a blind eye to the devastation and destruction caused by these 500 foot machines.
      Take your blinders off! Wind turbines are not the cute little pinwheel toys that everyone conjures up in their minds. Nor are they the benign little 30 foot windmills that you think of in Holland.
      They are massive, hulking 500 foot tall industrial machines that cause havoc to our environment.

      • “once connected – they generate electricity almost indefinitely” — meaning until the end of their 20 year life span. Then what? ”

        Ummm, solar panels are guaranteed to last 25 years, and are expected to last 40 years. The median decay rate is 0.5% a year, so that means in 20 years they are still producing 90% of their original rating:


        Larger studies have demonstrated that it is actually unusual for the panels to “degrade” in the conventional sense. What generally happens is that they continue pumping at a constant rate after a “burn in” period of about 4 to 6 months – that is, the graph in the paper above would likely be the same at 2 and 4 years. Instead, the rate of “degradation” is actually a measure of the failure rate of the panel as a whole – that is, x% of the panels will catastrophically fail after a certain time. That has been demonstrated to be 0.23% a year:


        It is useful to compare this to other sources of power, like nuclear. Reactors are designed with a specific lifetime in mind, normally about 20 years, then get a refit, and then a similar time again. After that there is no economic value to another refit. In comparison, PV should last, more than on average, beyond the lifetime of the reactor even after a refit.

        As a result of these studies, some are suggesting that the real lifetime can be extrapolated out to 100 years, and if so, PV is already the cheapest form of power in the world:


        I found the methodology in this particular study questionable, but the analysis of the lifetime and the effect of lifetime on LCoE is nevertheless useful background info.

    • Yah, we’re paid big bucks to do this.

  8. What are these “studies” that highlight a 2-4 job loss for every renewable job? Can we have a source please?

    • From page 91 of the Ontario Auditor General’s report (which gave Ontario’s GEA a scathing failing grade)….”Recent public announcements stated that the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 was expected to support over 50,000 jobs, about 40,000 of which would be related to renewable energy. However, about 30,000, or 75%, of these jobs were expected to be construction jobs lasting only from one to three years. We also noted that studies in other jurisdictions have shown that for each job created through renewable energy programs, about two to four jobs are often lost in other sectors of the economy because of higher electricity prices.”Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 was expected to support over 50,000 jobs, about 40,000 of which would be related to renewable energy. However, about 30,000, or 75%, of these jobs were expected to be construction jobs lasting only from one to three years. We also noted that studies in other jurisdictions have shown that for each job created through renewable energy programs, about two to four jobs are often lost in other sectors of the economy because of higher electricity prices.”

      • the specific details of each jurisdictions system would need to be compared to confirm the correlation between job losses in other sectors.

      • “about 2-4 jobs are often lost in other sectors?” could it be any more vague than that? The Green Energy and Green Economy Act is only responsible for a tiny fraction of the rising hydro costs. The main reasons are the extremely high costs for maintaining nuclear power plants and the costs for upgrades and maintenance of the Grid, which Hydro one neglected to do over the last 15-20 years.
        There is no correlation between high rising hydro prices and the Green Energy Act, this statement by the Ontario Auditor General is vague, inconclusive and quite frankly absolutely laughable

    • Sure, it’s from a Spanish source:


      Basically the study considers the rate of all the subsidies payed out to renewable generators. They then divide that into the current cost of electricity, and conclude (well, others did it for them) that the price of electricity would have to go up 31% to cover it.

      Then they change tack. Next they use the example of a steel producer, and conclude that all energy-intensive industries will be effected (which is not true, obviously, as is the case in Ontario where the buck has been moved elsewhere) and then calculate a per-cent-of-power rate of unemployment.

      Finally they take the number of jobs created, divide by the number lost, and say two-to-one – not five-to-one as widely reported (I’ve linked to the original report, go and read it yourself – 5-1 was the outside bet).

      Anyone see some potential problems with this logic?

      Well lots of other economists did. Of the many, here’s the one I consider most readable:


      They are both fully referenced, of course, so go at it!

  9. Wow, Don’t believe everything you read.

    I have just finished a three year course on Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency. Here are the things we have to do, #1 reduce our energy use, #2 find alternatives to coal, #3 find alternatives to fossil fuels, we are dependant on them and global warming is no joke. You know that person who hacks with a bad smokers cough… we’ll that’s our planet with too much GHG.

    Green energy is when properly built cleaner than any fossil fuel. Nuclear is expensive.Ontario has an ageing electrical generating infrastructure and needs to invest in power generation for the future. Alberta is currently experiencing brown outs because too many are turning on the AC. Ontario does not have rolling blackouts. Solar is a great match with Air conditioning power demand as it is at it’s best best when there is lots of sun. makes sense. Also at the peak of summer Ontario has imported power for prices greater than $1/kWh… this makes 80 cents look like a bargain… And 80 cents is only for the people of Ontario who have invested there hard earned money in putting this technology on their roof. The bigger players get much less. Fossil fuels are highly subsidised… why not renewables….
    The government could definitely planned out the FIT program better. Industry will for a long time regard Ontario as a bad place to do business. If you start a program… follow through, give the industry some transparency into your processes and don’t promise them the moon and then give a trip on the 401.

    • I remember when I just got out of school. I thought I new everything about economics. Poor Cranky. I soon found out I knew less than nothing. In fact, I had to UNLEARN what I had been taught before I was able to learn anything at all. Everything I know about economics I learned after I graduated. You’ll have the same experience with your subject matter. If you’re lucky.

  10. The truly ironic thing is that one of the places where green energy has been really successful is southern Alberta around the City of Calgary. It is a very windy area so the wind farms are productive. Also, Alberta gets alot of sunshine so the solar panels work really well. In fact, alot people probably don’t realize that the actual city runs its power grid, including the c-train using green energy. People are going to have to start thinking outside the box I believe. It might not be an either or situation for quite sometime.

    • That’s too funny … lol! The sad thing is that there are those who will believe this and consider it factual.

  11. There may be problems with the way the FIT program was designed, but at some point society needs to start paying the true cost of electricity, and the only reasonable debate left to have is whether that cost will be paid by subsidizing the wind industry and banning coal, or by introducing carbon taxes and tariffs so that true costs of production are internalized by producers and reflected in prices. We are telling ourselves a terrible lie if we continue to believe that we live in an era of cheap energy.

  12. Meantime, China…yup, China…. is leading and booming in green tech sales all over the world.

    Canada can’t get it’s thumb out, so sits here and whines.

  13. The reality is that we currently power our gadgets, light our buildings, and condition our spaces to be hotter or cooler than ambient temperature using predominantly non-renewable, environmentally damaging, and dwindling resources.

    The global “we” are exploring options utilising renewable resources. Building the ‘plant’ is going to consume resources much like building a natural gas, coal or nuclear plant. Fortunately, when it comes to renewable energy, the fuel required to power the plant is freely available. Unfortunately, when it comes to renewable energy, a mix is required to cover our absurd 24/7 lifestyle and the need to be cool when it’s hot out and hot when it’s cold out and power our myriad of rediculous electric gadgets (did you know that you can buy an electric mop??! why??!)

    Fortunately, when it’s blazingly hot, the sun is providing a huge amount of energy and when it’s over cast during weather system shifts, it’s windy. By combining solar with wind energy full coverage can be achieved.

    On the matter of siting: Did any of us get asked our opinion when the original fossil fuel plants, transmission stations, sub-stations, transmission / distribution infrastructure were being built? I propose that while we individual benefit from electricity generation, we realise that decisions need to be made in support of identifying a sustainable mixed-generation solution which minimises long term environmental impact and moves us away from fossil fuel reliance.

    On the conservation / energy efficiency side: The buildng industry needs to fully consider all of the available options since retrofits are more costly than doing it right the first time. Consideration of building layout, as was given centuries ago, should include examination of passive solar, natural ventilation, and other aspects with implicatons on heating and cooling. Water capture systems, geothermal, solar thermal/PV, wind, hydro, etc. and any other conceivable form of sustainable renewable method through which to generate electricity and condition the space should become standard practice.

  14. “people will be at each others’ throats for the last tank of gas.”

    I find it hard to believe people are still pushing that apocalyptic lie. It is contradicted by every survey of available resources. It is one more of their tools to plunder the economy and the natural Ontario landscape with their metal monsters.

  15. Educate me: how is fracking clean?

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