Category Archives: Solar Systems

What is EASR?

Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) is essentially a procedure similar to getting a Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of Energy and Environment, directed towards small ground-mount solar systems. It also takes much less time compared to REA.

In order to qualify for EASR, among other criteria, the maximum capacity of the ground-mount solar system must not exceed 500 kW. The system has to be located on lands with specific uses (residential not included), and must qualify a minimum setback distance of 15  meters from the property border.

The Ministry of Environment in Ontario provides useful resources for EASR for “Small Ground-mounted Solar Facilities”. To access the information visit: http://goo.gl/mwQop

As the first step, you should fill in the Notification Form in accordance with section 5.2 of “Environmental Activity & Sector Registry (EASR) User Guide;
Small Ground-Mounted Solar Facilities”, all of which can be found in the link provided above. You then qualify to register on EASR online.

The cost for the EASR procedure is an estimate of $1,200.

 

How many MWs of renewable energy technologies are installed in Ontario under the FIT program?

Under the FIT 1.0 program which was launched in September 2009 and lasted for about two years, more than ten thousands application were submitted to the OPA. These applications would add up to nearly 21 MW of renewable energy technologies in Ontario.

Of all these application only 1,700+ were granted contracts, totaling 4,500 MW of renewable energy systems. Solar PV and wind probably have the biggest share among various green technologies.

Currently nearly 400 MW of renewable energy technologies are in commercial operation within province, and the remaining 4,100 MW that is shared between 1,200 OPA contracts are in development phase.

With the launch of new FIT program (version 2.1) there will be a small spike in the capacity of renewable energy systems within Ontario. But the development phase will be shorter since the new systems must be in service within 18 months of entering the contract with the OPA.

What are the associated costs to applying for a FIT contract with OPA?

Submitting an application to the OPA for a FIT contract for a rooftop solar PV system has different costs associated with it directly and indirectly that have to bee foreseen when intending to submit an application. A brief description of these costs are represented here based on FIT Rules version 2.1.

Application Fee (FIT Rules Section 3.1(b))

“a certified cheque, bank draft or money order payable to “Ontario Power Authority” in an amount that is the greater of (i) $0.50 per kW of proposed Contract Capacity, subject to a maximum of $5,000, and (ii) $500, which fee is inclusive of GST and shall be non-refundable regardless of whether the Application is accepted by the OPA (the “Application Fee”);”

Application fee is non-refundable, and for any project smaller than 1MW is $500.

Application Security (FIT Rules Section 3.1(c) and 3.1(d))

“for Applications other than where an Application is in respect of an Aboriginal Participation Project or a Community Participation Project described in Section 3.1(c)(ii), security in an amount that is the greater of (A) $1,000.00; and
(B)$20 per kW of proposed Contract Capacity, in respect of Solar (PV) Projects” [slightly modified]

For projects smaller than 50kW, the application security fee is $1,000. Application security will be returned upon receipt of FIT contract, and the Completion and Performance Security.

Completion and Performance Security (FIT Contract Article 5)

Completion and Performance Security must be paid within 30 days of receiving Notice to Proceed in the amount of “Incremental NTP Security”. The amount of the Incremental NTP Security is $25.00 per kW of Contract Capacity of a rooftop solar project, and is returned after Commercial Operation Date.

See FIT Contract rules for more details.

Connection Impact Assessment (CIA)

CIA must be executed after the effective date of the FIT contract. Its cost varies depending on the size of your system, and the LDC where your site location falls under. Consult the LDC website for details of the costs.

Professional Engineer Report (FIT Rules Section 3.2(f))

“for Rooftop Solar Projects, the Applicant must obtain a written confirmation from a Professional Engineer, in the Prescribed Form, stating that the Existing Building has sufficient usable surface area for the Project and that it is either:
(i) suitable to support the Rooftop Solar Project; or
(ii) would be suitable to support the Rooftop Solar Project after implementation of improvements, a complete listing and particulars of which are described in such confirmation”

Consult an structural engineering firm for the details of their service and associated costs. Contact me for references.

What does your solar dream look like?

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3D model of a stadium equipped with rooftop solar panels, designed and developed using Google SketchUp Warehouse

What does your solar dream look like?

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3D model of a farm equipped with ground-mount solar panels, designed and developed using Google SketchUp Warehouse

What does your solar dream look like?

Click on image to view larger size

Designed and developed using Google SketchUp Warehouse

Is it financially viable to install a solar system?

One of the main and most debatable subjects in this regard is that solar technology (in specific photovoltaic) is still at such a stage that the cost of producing electricity from solar energy comes out to be more expensive compared to other conventional methods of power production. This means that you have to pay more money for a unit of electricity that is produced from a solar power system.

For this reason many governments around the globe provide incentives and subsidies (known as feed-in-tariff) to promote solar power. The way it works is that the government buys the electricity you produce from your solar system at a higher rate. This is the only way it becomes financially viable to install solar systems on micro scales.

The government of Ontario introduced this program in 2009 and after a review, lowered the tariff rates in 2012. This doesn’t mean that new solar system owners make less profit, but because the cost of manufacturing various components of a solar system is decreasing as the technology advances, it will cheaper and cheaper to produce electricity from solar energy. This means that the solar power will be competitive with other modes of power production in the future and eventually there will be no requirement for government subsidies.