Lack of government initiative
Well, I knew the day would come. History repeats itself. The progression of solar in Canada is a tough one. It has usually been a Liberal government that sets in place some progressive rebates or support for solar thermal and it is usually a Conservative one that removes it. This has been untrue only once Federally. After much lobbying the Conservatives re-named a Liberal program, actually made it better in some ways, and just when it was getting to the point of sustainability and general acceptance, they killed it again…claiming that it was too popular. When it was killed the first time, in 2006, they told us in a meeting that it was because they did not believe in global warming and as an industry we were too small to care about. Well, times have changed some. We are a much bigger industry than we were 4 years ago and regardless of their beliefs, global warming is an accepted fact (unless you listen to oil industry paid “scientists”).
While they still don’t believe in global warming, they gave $850 million to the nebulous and ineffective program called “Carbon Capture and Storage”, while the cheaper and much more effective EcoEnergy program, which helped pave the way for 1000s of jobs retrofitting houses and buildings, not to mention solar, was plowed under.
So, in Ontario, we are left with their part of the program: $1250 for a water heater. Not enough to get anyone’s pulse racing … but probably the best program ever made just wrapped up in Toronto. The Solar Neighbourhoods project gave the 0% interest loan to anyone who wanted it. Although it was only a pilot project, it had the effect of allowing those who could not normally afford the upfront cost of installing a solar system to do so, something no other program has done before, to my knowledge. And when it was combined with the $1250 from the feds and the renovation tax credit, a perfect storm was created. One that, I fear, is never to be repeated. Unfortunately, governments don’t tend to care much for the working poor, and solar in all its forms needs upfront money so they are left out of the loop. Solar Neighbourhoods was the exception.
So we are left with the FIT and MicroFIT program, may they never die. It is a progressive a program as we have in North America at this time. Enter the PVT (PVthermal). Piggyback the thermal onto the PV panels, get a bit more electrical production from it, save some racking and installation cost, and provide for a lot more of the annual energy bill by providing for hot water.
Addendum…..before the election in the spring of 2011, one of the compromises made with the NDP was to return the EcoEnergy rebates. The rebates are now available but so far, only till the 2011 fiscal year end at the end of March.