Setting the Scene: Canada’s Renewable Energy Policy Environments.
Investing in the Canadian Renewable Energy Sector.
Biomass energy generation opportunities in Canada.
Geothermal energy generation opportunities in Canada.
Renewable Energy Series: A Case For Action.
Renewable and clean energy has taken on a much greater importance to the Canadian energy scene in recent years with the federal and provincial governments spurring project development and innovation through a variety of programs. But since energy falls under provincial jurisdiction, provincial governments have instituted a number of programs to increase the amount of renewable energy that feeds into the electrical grid.
Ontario: Perhaps the most well known and talked about is the Ontario government’s Green Economy and Green Energy Act which ushered in the Feed-in-Tariff Program. It provides lucrative subsidies, particularly for solar energy, to developers to build facilities. For small rooftop mounted solar microFiT projects – those less than 12 kW – residential homeowners can receive $0.802 per kWh produced. Larger, multi-megawatt solar parks enjoy rates of $0.443 per kWh.
There are incentives for other renewables such as wind (both onshore and offshore), biomass, biogas, landfill gas and water power. Other programs to encourage combined heat and power (CHP) are also available with the province looking to acquire an additional 500 MW of CHP under its clean energy standard offer program (CESOP).
Nova Scotia: Other provinces are following Ontario’s lead in encouraging development of cleaner electrical grid, but have opted for different approaches. Nova Scotia is another province that is really upping the ante on renewables. The province has set a goal of generating 25% of the province’s electricity needs from renewables by 2015, increasing to 40% by 2020. The lofty goals are laid out in the province’s Renewable Electricity Plan: A path to good jobs, stable prices, and a cleaner environment. Read more about it in an April 26, 2010 article in Canadian Green Tech. The province’s plan relies more on renewable energy quotas and than it does on a feed-in-tariff program. The latter will be considered for smaller community projects and potentially for tidal energy.
British Columbia: Canada’s western-most province tabled its Clean Energy Act last spring with the primary goal of attaining energy self sufficiency in 2016. The province proposes to rely heavily on energy efficiency, energy conservation and smart grid to meet 66% of future provincial electricity needs. British Columbia is also pushing hard to get substantially more biomass generation on the grid and is committed to acquiring 1,000 GWh.
A feed-in-tariff program is contemplated in the BC legislation, but as is Nova Scotia’s case, it won’t be as extensive as the program in Ontario. For more on the BC plan, you can refer to two Canadian Green Tech articles: May 4, 2010 and December 14, 2010.
Growth of the renewable energy sector in Canada largely relies on government handouts resulting from a lack of a pricing mechanism on CO2 emissions. But government subsidies in the form of tax credits, cash rebates or feed-in-tariffs only account for a portion of the investment required for a project to go from the design table to implementation, the rest of the money has to come from somewhere. The Canadian banks are dipping their toes in, but have largely remained on the sidelines due to the high level of risk and uncertain policy future.
With the long payback periods associated with renewable energy projects, securing a sufficient supply of capital can be difficult. With respect to solar, the big banks are starting to understand the business. But they are only interested in projects requiring $25 million or more in capital. Alternative financing from companies like JCM Capital are aggregating mid-size projects.
More broadly though, what are developers to do? And where they should start looking?
The burning or gasification of organic waste represents significant energy generation opportunity in Canada. Each and every municipality has a landfill and more and more of them are considering diverting organic waste from the landfill to be used as a feedstock for biomass-based energy. Feedstocks for biomass energy generating systems can come in a variety of forms with forestry and wood waste being plentiful in certain regions of Canada, particularly in British Columbia.
Canada, particularly in British Columbia.
While provincial governments such as British Columbia and Ontario are pushing full steam ahead to capitalize on biomass opportunities, Prince Edward Island is also considering the installation of eight such facilities across the province as a way to deal with its organic waste issue.
Perhaps one of the most underdeveloped renewable energy technologies in Canada is geothermal, despite its ability to very inexpensively provide base load power similar to hydro and coal. Canada has some considerable geothermal opportunities particularly in British Columbia and even in Ontario.
The western most province is beginning to get into the game, recently completing its first geothermal property land sale. Borealis GeoPower of Vancouver was able to secure three such properties for early discovery activities.
The Canadian geothermal sector in Canada has come a long way in a very short period of time. A small, but solid contingent of Canadian companies are now active in geothermal hot zones such as Nevada, Iceland and even Nicaragua. >
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