Creating Incentives for Solar Panel Installation

Photo: istockphotos

Ontario is creating the perfect climate for investments and job creation in its efforts to satisfy the province’s growing energy needs.  Various incentives and renewable energy grants have already begun prompting companies, homeowners, and even farms to embrace clean energy options - just last month, OPEL Solar, Inc., a developer of photovoltaic (PV) ground-based and rooftop tracker systems, recently announced its expansion into the Toronto area.  

As Ontario's government continues to push its green agenda, many believe that the province will not only meet its 2030 deadline for sustainable energy, but it could also help restore an economy hard hit by the current recession.  "The manufacture of OPEL Solar's products in North America creates jobs and brings the 'green economy' to life," said Francisco Middleton, COO of OPEL Solar.  Adopting a much broader approach, Ontario’s Energy & Infrastructure Minister, Brad Duguid, believes the province's renewable energy push could create as many as 50,000 jobs over the next three years.  These jobs will most likely come from manufacturing, research, and solar panel (PV) installation.  

Ontario’s feed-in-tariffs (FIT) are expected to play a significant role in stimulating the economy by attracting PV manufacturers and enticing consumer installation.  Already, private renewable energy investment has approached CAD 9 billion, just in the past several months.  FITs also encourage solar installation by allowing homeowners, businesses, and utilities to sell their solar-generated electricity back into the grid for a profit.  Officials hope the income potential will entice even more buy-in, thus prompting greater demand for solar installation training, and in turn, even more jobs.

A Case Study: Profits and Savings of Solar Energy

The promise of solar's potential is nothing new.  During the OPEC crises of the 1970s, wild speculation and eager investment helped make the technology more mainstream.  Unfortunately, insufficient public support, government backing, and efficiency standards prevented solar from truly taking off.  This time around, however, many believe the results could be very different.

One need look no further than British couple, Ken and May Brock, to understand how thirty years of policies and technological advancements can alter the landscape.  

Much like Ontario, the UK offers FIT incentives enticing homeowners to embrace solar energy.  Amazingly, the Brocks expect to save £900 annually while earning £41.3 for every kilowatt-hour of electricity their photovoltaic cells produce.   And according to the firm responsible for the Brocks' installation, East Green Energy, the cells should be able to generate £19,000 in profits over the next 25 years, assuming utility prices continue to rise by 5% a year.  Profits over this time could be substantially more if the UK's industry regulator's energy crisis predictions come true.  

“With the technical improvements in renewable energy and the feed-in tariffs, it means we will recoup expenditure[s] within ten years,” says Ken Brock.  If Ontario continues along the same path, its inhabitants may soon enjoy the same solar energy benefits and savings as their neighbors across the Atlantic.  

Austin Brentley is a born and bred Washingtonian who has spent the last 9 years traveling the globe, living in New York, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, France, and most recently, Malaysia.  Passionate about all things green, Austin currently works with the Ontario Solar Academy, writing news stories and blogs about North America's growing solar revolution.  Feel free to drop him a line if you have questions about photovoltaic technology or solar panel installation training.