With the addition of the 9.1 MW First Light project, Ontario's total installed solar PV capacity has reached 10.8 MW, putting Ontario in league with Connecticut, Oregon, and Massachusetts, the 8th, 9th, and 10th, jurisdiction in the USA with the most installed capacity at the end of 2008, according to Paul Gipe at Wind-works.org.
Previously, the largest solar PV project in Canada was the 111 kW solar system atop the Jean Canfield Building in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. It is closely followed by the 100 kW solar system at the Horse Palace in Toronto, Ontario.
The First Light project, a joint venture between SunEdison Canada and SkyPower and is expected to generate 10 GWh per year using solar thin-film panels manufactured by First Solar and 500 kW inverters built in Burlington, Ontario by SatCon.
The solar projects were installed under Ontario's Standard Offer Contract program that pays CA$0.42/kWh (US$0.38/kWh) under 20-year contracts with the Ontario Power Authority. Unlike the USA, there are no tax subsidies in Canada.
First Solar operates an existing 1 MW solar project near Sarnia that it bought from OptiSolar, and it expects to have expanded the project to a full 20 MW by the end of the year.
If First Solar reaches its objective, Ontario will not only jump into the top 10 but also be among the top five jurisdictions in North America with a total installed solar PV capacity of 29.8 MW, Gipe writes.
There are more than 500 MW of contracts outstanding under the Standard Offer programme, which, if built, could mean that Ontario would soon rival California as a leader in solar PV development in North America, far surpassing any other state or province.
In addition, manufacturers, dealers, and installers are gearing up for a boom in rooftop installations under Ontario's new system of feed-in tariffs that replaced the Standard Offer programme. Currently there are some 700 kW of rooftop solar systems operating in the province.