Ontario approves a motherload of green energy projects: 2,500 MW of capacity

The Ontario Power Authority, which designed and is in charge of administering the province’s feed-in-tariff program, announced micro and small/medium sized FIT contracts earlier this year totalling 112 megawatts. Today, it issued the big one: the awarding of 184 contracts for projects larger than 500 kilowatts. In total, and assuming all projects get developed, this works out to 2,421 MW of green-energy capacity.

Ground-mounted solar represented 76 of the projects and amount to more than 600 megawatts. Northland Power, a company normally associated with building natural gas plants, has 13 solar projects totalling 130 MW. Onshore wind projects number 47 and waterpower projects number 46. The Ontario government called this the “single-largest green energy initiative of its kind in Canada,” while environmental and pro-green industry groups called the contract approvals historic. No doubt, criticism will follow from the usual suspects who continue to crap on any green-energy programs.

Significantly, 264 MW worth of projects have been identified as “community power”: projects developed, owned and operated by Ontario landowners and groups comprised of First Nations and energy co-ops — in other words, not by corporations.

The province said this latest round of projects will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs, though I’ve always found it a mystery how they come to those numbers and take them with a grain of salt. It also estimated it will result in $9 billion in private investment, a figure that’s boosted by local content requirements.

The big surprise: a contract was issued for a 300 megawatt offshore wind project in Lake Ontario, near Kingston’s Wolfe Island. It’s sure to be a controverial project, but it represents the first time *in the world* that a power-purchase contract has been granted to an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes. It’s also the largest single approved project under this entire FIT round. Click here for a breakdown of the 184 projects.

The company behind the Wolfe Island Shoals Windfarm is a company called Windstream Energy. Don’t know much about them, but they’ve got their work cut out. They would have had to put up more than $3 million in security deposits to participate in the FIT, so I’m assuming they’ve got lots of wind data and have done the necessary studies (bird, bat, etc…) to move the project forward. But even so, they’re going to face the wrath of an angry Wolfe Island residents association, which is having a hard enough time accepting the onshore turbines there. “If they’re directly in front of Wolfe Island it’s going to be a firestorm,” said one industry observer. Got that right.

More to come later…

7 thoughts on “Ontario approves a motherload of green energy projects: 2,500 MW of capacity”

  1. That list you link to is interesting. But is there a list that shows which companies are doing the installs and/or running the project? The “Legal Applicant Name” appears to be the name of who will be collecting revenue from the installation once it is up and running.

  2. Tyler,

    I’m just curious, but the OPA news release doesn’t mention the amount of energy they expect these projects will generate. Do you have a ballpark figure?

  3. A relative of mine works for ERCA in Essex, down near Windsor and they’ve been dealing with the proposal in the works for placing a final total of 700 turbines offshore in Erie. They’re more than eager to see wind power go ahead in a big way, but has serious reservations about how the project is going ahead. Eg. environmental assesments not done, turbines smack in the Monarch butterfly’s migration route, the turbines being used are old, outdated, and ineffecient etc. They also have some concerns about the comany in that it feels like a fly-by-night outfit as opposed to a solid firm that has some experience with this.

    IN contrast, my relative is quite pleased with the land based turbines and the companies that are putting them in. Enviro assessments done properly, work done well etc.

    I’m totally in favour of wind energy, but I worry that projects that are given the go-ahead haven’t been properly vetted. The last thing I want to see is more ammunition given to the NIMBY’s and deniers by the very people that we are counting on to build a better energy future.

    I think that while the legislation used to promote wind has, in effect, kick started things, we need to look more closely at those that are approved for building before the scammers and in-for-a-quick-buck crowd takes over.

  4. Tyler, one of the things the usual suspects usually bang on about is the need for duplication and rolling, fossil-fueled, backup of wind and solar capacity. The commonly-heard claim that wind and solar don’t save even a single gram of CO2 is clearly false, but the general issue is a real one. So, any word on how and how efficiently the Ontario grid will make use all this new intermittent production? Does the govt have a clear plan, or are they taking a wait-and-see approach? The official literature is vague on this point.

  5. New natural gas capacity has already been contracted out, and several coal-fired units in the province that once served a baseload/load following function will be converted to biomass and operated as peakers to help balance renewables. Also, there will likely be more hydroelectric imports from Quebec and better pairing with new hydroelectric sources coming online in Ontario. There’s also increased demand response capability. The solar, while intermittent, is much more closely aligned with demand cycles so there’s less problem there. The final thing that’s needed, in my opinion, is some additional large-scale storage. Construction of one of several large pumped-storage projects in the province would allow even more penetration of wind and solar on the grid. Clearly, natural gas — in the short and medium term — is going to play a crucial role during the transition.

  6. This is a disaster in the making. The higher electricity costs with make manufacturing jobs disappear, and at the same time, household hit with higher costs will curb spending in other areas. The only winners are the corporations that will enjoy the feed in tariffs.

  7. Interesting breakdown, Tyler.

    In addition to the list linked in this article, the OPA has posted other lists that break down the projects in various ways, such as fuel source, project city. I don’t think they show installation companies though. There are also some maps out there that show where all the projects are. See my blog post on the same subject for more details.


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