Canada’s solar industry has a unique opportunity to position itself to play a leading role as governments across Canada design and implement policies to address climate concerns and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.
“With so much going on in the energy sector right now, it’s more important than ever to stay connected, updated, and involved. Now is not the time to stand on the sidelines,” says Wes Johnston, VP, of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA)*.
“If you’re part of the solar industry, you need to be part of the change.”
Three conferences, starting with Solar Ontario May 16–17 in Niagara Falls, provide a platform for industry players to demonstrate how solar energy can supply the low-carbon solutions that governments and consumers are seeking. They also offer attendees a chance to connect with their peers and potential customers, adds Johnston; giving companies the competitive edge they need to succeed in a rapidly changing environment.
“It’s very important to get face-to- face with people, because it is how relationships are started, and relationships are really the basis for everything,” he explains. ”It’s where you learn and share ideas, and how you generate new business contacts and new business contracts.”
Next month’s Solar Ontario event comes at a particularly important time for the industry in that province, says Johnston. Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently awarded contracts to 7 solar projects totaling 140 MW in its first large renewable procurement (LRP) process, and will issue a request for qualifications by August 1 for up to 250 MW more under LRP2. Contracts from the FIT 4 procurement will be released in June, with Fit 5 and MicroFIT 4 to be launched in the second half of 2016. At the same time, the upcoming renewal of the province’s long-term energy plan, its ongoing regional power system planning process, and its redesign of the electricity market will define the opportunities for solar in Ontario into the future. The event also features a half-day pre-conference workshop that takes an in-depth look at Ontario’s future behind-the- meter generation market.
“The program at Solar Ontario is really designed to update attendees on what is happening now and how we can build on the momentum into the future,” says Johnston.
In parallel with the Ontario event, CanSIA is holding its annual Game Changer Awards Gala, celebrating the organizations and individuals who have helped bring the industry to where it is today. “It is also an opportunity to meet with those leaders and learn from them,” says Johnston.
CanSIA heads to Calgary October 5–7 for Solar West and, once again, the timing could not be better.
Alberta is in the process of creating its plan to accelerate the phaseout of coal-fired generation and replace it with cleaner energy sources. While how much solar will be part of the mix has yet to be determined, the provincial government has already announced more than $5 million to help municipalities and farmers harness the power of the sun.
“Alberta is the new frontier for industry growth, so it is especially important for people to be involved and use their voice to make sure the province takes full advantage of its tremendous solar energy potential in the new plan,” says Johnston.
CanSIA’s flagship Solar Canada conference takes place in Toronto December 5–6. The two-day program will take a broad look at the technical, policy, and market challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the sector. “There is a little bit of everything for everybody at all levels of the industry,” says Johnston.
A trade show, showcasing the leading companies and the latest technological developments in the sector, is a Solar Canada highlight. With new projects to be contracted in Ontario and Alberta, says Johnston, it provides a timely opportunity to meet with vendors. The show itself is also evolving with the industry, and will include PV and solar thermal pavilions, a net zero energy home design contest for students, a racking competition, and initiatives targeted at manufacturers and distributors.
“We are really trying to open the show to encompass all of the markets involved with the solar industry,” explains Johnston.
*This article was kindly sponsored by the good people at CanSIA.