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Can you briefly introduce your company?
PURE Energies Inc. is a Canadian renewable energy company providing solar energy systems under the Ontario Power Authority’s (OPA) FIT program. The Company designs, installs, finances, operates and maintains residential rooftop solar systems with a 20 year guarantee – provided free of charge to the homeowner. Headquartered in Toronto and founded by an experienced team of global solar and finance specialists, PURE Energies is the leading residential solar development company in the Ontario market. In 2010 we will move from a startup company to a 50 person plus team and few MW of systems installed and/or in the pipeline. Over the last few months, we have assembled a 30 person team experienced in Solar PV from customer acquisition, supply chain and installation , customer care perspective. Also we are securing the needed project financing for the next years of our deployment.
What are your expectations for the PV market in Canada (Ontario) in 2010? (in terms of MW/year) and how does that compare to last year?
We believe that the PV market will exceed 150 MW in 2010. This is a huge step up from the 40 or so MW in 2009. In 2011, we expect that there will be over 300 MW in the ground and on rooftop in 2011. This will evidently rival California as the top market in North America. It is no surprise given the progressiveness of the FiT and MicroFiT program that was put in place by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure through its regulator, the Ontario Power Authority. There is resolve in the Ontario government to create 50000 Green Collar jobs and replace all coal fired electricity generation by 2014. Solar PV is one of the most important ways of achieving this by creating Peak Shaving capacity.
What do you expect to happen next year (with respect to demand)? And, is there any risk that the authorities will reduce the FiT because of its success, like it happened in Germany and Italy?
The demand will increase 2 to 3 times this year. It will be robust growth that the PV industry is certainly used to. There is definitely a plan for the FiT to be reduced in a step down fashion as the industry and the adoption rate grows. The government has based the program on building in a few years the needed supply chain with the required “domestic content” and providing a 'reasonable rate of return' to those who participate in it. Once this is achieved we would strongly support an adjustment downwards in the tariff, to reduce any risk of the market overheating and burning the program out prematurely.
What is the most used technology (thin-film or c-Si) and do you see any trend?
The Province of Ontario requires Domestic Content in each installation. So far, none of the Thin Film companies have come out and stated that they will be building capacity within Ontario. Therefore the focus will most likely be c-Si.
What are current turnkey PV system prices for residential systems in Ontario? We actually do not sell any of our systems as we own and operate. We have heard that the fully loaded cost to install PV ranges anywhere from 7 to 10 CND dollars per Wp DC.
How close is Ontario to grid-parity in the retail energy market and what are grid energy prices expected to do this decade?
On a fully amortized basis the Province is charging between 8 and 12 cents per kWh currently, so we are little ways away from Grid parity. However, the network of Electricity Distributors (LDC's) are integrating Time of use Billing which will speed up the road to Peak Grid parity.
Is any part of Canada other than Ontario, or the central government, considering support solar PV with special incentives?
Yes many, but only British Columbia and New Brunswick have stated it publically others will have to confirm .
What trends do you see with respect to market segmentation in Ontario (residential, commercial, or utility-scale projects)? More and more bigger power plants or residential domination?
We believe the Province is very interested in making solar visible and creating electricity where it is needed most (not requiring upgrades to the distribution network), which is in populated areas with unused roof assets. There is not much need to produce electricity in a field 300 KM from where it is needed by covering otherwise useful farmland.
What are the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities in your market? Are administrative or permitting procedures more easy than, say US/California?
The biggest challenge is building a recognised and organised industry by all stakeholders (Provincial Government, OPA, Local distribution companies, Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), financial institutions, Insurance companies, suppliers and installation trades. Solar PV is a new category to Ontario – but it is becoming organized quite quickly so it’s encouraging. The MEI and OPA have created a fantastic program and are ramping it. Like anything of this magnitude, there are always growing pains. Thankfully, all stakeholders have their best people and their best interests at heart and on the job.
Thank you for the interview.