Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says he’s not prepared to tolerate NIMBYism regarding renewable-energy projects when community concerns go beyond health, safety and environmental concerns. In other words, those who oppose wind turbines, biomass facilities and solar farms “just because” — i.e. because they don’t like the look of them, because they think wind energy is uneconomical, because they think climate change is a crock, because they believe it will affect property values — won’t be permitted to derail projects by manipulating local and provincial regulations.
McGuinty said the province’s new Green Energy Act to be tabled later this month will aim to streamline/clarify/override local bylaws and regulations that can be used by certain groups to delay or stop proposed renewable-energy projects.
It’s a laudable goal. Continue reading Dealing with NIMBYism a balancing act
It’s been a long-time coming, but finally the electricity sector in Ontario has taken a close look at what a smart grid might look like and what it will take to get us there. The Ontario Smart Grid Forum, made up of electricity sector executives and officials, released a white paper this week that, among other things, recommended that the province spend $320 million annually for the next five years on smart grid technology deployment — and that’s above and beyond existing budget allocations for grid maintenance, expansion and smart meter deployment. (See my Toronto Star article here).
It would be a decent chunk of change, at least measured against the pittance the federal government has allocated for the entire country — that is, some unknown portion of a $1 billion “green” fund spread over five years. In the United States, a stimulus bill under discussion would devote $11 billion (U.S.) over two years. Continue reading Task force: spend $1.6 billion on Ontario smart grid over five years
I know there’s been a lot of talk about “grid parity” for solar PV without subsidies, and in which year this milestone is likely to be reached. The date I’ve heard the most is 2015, and even then, only in places with lots of sun and expensive electricity — like California. One could argue this is a pointless discussion, given that conventional forms of electricity generation are also subsidized (though this isn’t transparent) and don’t take into account externalities like the impact of pollution on the environment, health and the climate. But I digress.
At the Canadian Solar Industries Association two-day annual conference in Toronto today Andrew Kinross from Navigant Consulting said he expected grid parity in Ontario to be reached between 2020 and 2023. This is based on an expected increase in fossil fuel prices and the expectation that CO2 emission credits will be valued at $70 per ton. While 2020 might sound like a long time, one has to consider that Ontario currently has relatively inexpensive electricity prices in a North American context (and certaintly compared to Europe) and there are less hours of sunlight over a year compared to, say, California.
As much as 12 years sounds like a long time, I don’t see it that way. Continue reading Solar to reach grid parity in Ontario by 2020, maybe earlier
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, recently re-elected, gave his Throne Speech today and reiterated the Conservative party’s campaign promise of having 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity come from “non-emitting” sources by 2020. The media have characterized this as “ambitious,” and while it seems so on the surface, it’s not so challenging when you look at the numbers.
In fact, what it really means is increasing the amount of power we get from non-emitting sources by 25 per cent. But using a figure like 90 per cent sounds a lot more impressive than 25 per cent. Continue reading What about the oil sands? Harper’s goal of 90% emission-free electricity by 2020 not so ambitious
My Clean Break column today argues that Ontario needs to act fast on green-economy building if it hopes to keep up with a re-energized America under a green-driven Obama administration. The province needs to announce a bold, comprehensive green strategy within the next six month and it has to market it aggressively at home, across the border and overseas. This is no longer about adding renewable energy to the grid. It’s about creating a sustainable industrial strategy that will create green-collar jobs and bring Ontario’s manufacturing sector into the 21st century. It’s also not just about climate change. It’s about energy and economic security. To quote a comment made last week by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., “If you don’t change today you will get buried by the change.”