When we launched the first Ontario Feed-in Tariff Forum in October 2010, the focus was on how to build an industry that could support the massive amount of project activity expected while meeting domestic content rules. Today, while some of the players have changed, the market is in place and the new question is: Can the program sustain the industry that has been built around it?
Over the last six months, we have spoken to over 100 developers, suppliers and investors about their hopes and fears for the FIT. What came out of this research is reflected in the agenda for this year’s Ontario Feed-in Tariff Forum 2013 (April 3-4, Toronto) and our inaugural National Renewable Energy Forum (April 2, Toronto), which was launched today.
The industry is looking for much more detail and clarity on FIT 2.0 opportunities and the execution of FIT 1.0 contracts. With Ontario expecting a large build-out of wind and solar over the next two years, developers would like to hear from other project leaders about their experiences with building FIT 1.0 projects. There is also a demand for critical insight on how contracts will be processed, assessed and prioritized under FIT 2.0. Grid capacity, finance and the impacts of Surplus Baseload Generation are top of mind, as well.
The industry also wants to understand how the power sector in Ontario is evolving and what new opportunities might develop for renewables. This April, against a backdrop of escalating political uncertainty, it will be a critical time for the market to meet and discuss these issues.
Renewables Leadership and Direction
One of the key messages that came across through developer interviews is the need for leadership and direction in driving the next mandate for renewables, not only in Ontario but across the country. Building social license, shaping provincial policies and demonstrating the true value and economics of renewables vs. other forms of energy is imperative. In the near-term, beyond Ontario, developers see Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta as holding the most promise for new projects but they also see a need to elevate the status of the sector and drive the agenda rather than always chasing the next number.
This year the National Renewable Energy Forum (April 2, Toronto) will be established to tackle these broader issues and shed light on the emerging opportunities in other key provincial markets. We are bringing in new faces such as the CEO of Edelman Canada to talk about how renewables can gain traction with the public and policy-makers. The industry wants to hear how other sectors have boosted their public image.
Developers are now working like mad to get their small FIT (10 KW-500 KW) applications in before the January 18, 2013 deadline. The outlook for the large FIT window remains unclear but the opening of small FIT is certainly encouraging. And while there are worrying signs on the horizon for renewables in Ontario including falling energy demand, plans for nuclear refurbishments and political uncertainty, this province has grown into one of the largest renewables markets in North America and the true value of these technologies has yet to be embraced, communicated or understood.
It is clear that renewables in Canada is at a critical point. The market is seeking further clarity and detail on existing and future opportunities under FIT but is also looking to shape and influence future energy policy decisions in Ontario and across Canada. We’re looking forward to April and to connecting with developers, suppliers, investors and regulators along the way. Our aim with the Forum is to facilitate more projects in Ontario and across the country so that Canada can truly realize its renewable energy potential.
Lead image: Ottawa government buildings via Shutterstock
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