Be the change you want to see in the world -Ghandi
Welcome! The aim of this website is to educate people and to promote sustainable living practices, principally through the use of renewable energy and building techniques which yield improved energy conservation.
My goal is to have 100% of Ontario's electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025. I think this is possible, but to say that it will be a lot of work is an understatement.
If you put into practice anything that you learn here, or if you in some way assist or encourage others to do so, thank you, because you are helping me to reach my goal. Corrections or suggestions for improvements to this website are always welcomed, but I must admit that a shortage of time makes these updates infrequent.
By the way, if you haven't already looked into investing in the SolarShare co-operative's Community Solar Bonds, please do! www.solarbonds.ca. SolarShare is not-for profit and it's where all my time goes. 19 solar projects now up and running, 3 more approved for construction....and we've only just begun!
-Mike Brigham, Toronto email me at:
March 7, 2013
Sorry for the long absence, but my work in SolarShare has toally absorbed me. We filed applications In January to build 35 more projects worth more than $40 million. Will we get them all approved? Who knows, but we should get approval for most of them. In the meantime, we added a 140kW system in St. Catharines, have another under construction in north Etobicoke and shortly will announce construction plans for 2 more. SolarShare now boasts almost 500 members. Life is fun but very hectic
September 13, 2012
Japan will abandon nuclear power within the next three decades under new government policy on the post-Fukushima energy mix, a newspaper said Wednesday. This brings its intentions in line with a growing number of other nations. Germany last year said it would shut down its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022, while in Italy, a referendum rejected any resumption of nuclear energy generation, which was halted after the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl. Switzerland has approved plans to close its five reactors by 2034. Read the whole article here.
September 3, 2012
Anti-wind groups keep making incorect and misleading claims about wind power. One claim, is that wind isn't a dependable enough form of energy generation and doesn't really reduce greehouse gas emissions (I'm not making this up!). A study just completed by the the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in Britain found quite the opposite, that wind power is reliable and cuts carbon emissions significantly. The authors stated that "The reliability and security of wind power does not depend on the variability of wind but instead on how well changes in wind power output can be predicted and managed". The full report is here.
August 29, 2012
I visited SolarShare's newest project, a 140kW rooftop solar PV system in St. Catharines Ontario today and it is moving along quite nicely with the inverter on site and most of the racking and panels already installed. The installation has gone quickly and we're hoping that the project will start generating power onto the grid within 8 weeks if all goes well. Pictures will follow.
July 3, 2012
People keep asking me for a link to a story that got aired in the press just weeks before the last provincial election, so here it is, albeit late. It seems the the Ontario Power Worker's Union hired a marketing company to have its workers do whatever they could to discourage the growth of renewable energy such as wind and solar in Ontario. When reading articles that criticize these forms of energy, one should be very careful to fact check because there has been so much misinformation spread about. I'll let the article speak for itself here.
June 25, 2012
SolarShare adds another project, our 19th! We have contracted with Moose Power to have them build a 140kW rooftop PV system in St Catharines Ontario, due to be complete and generating later this year. This was announced in the first annual general meeting for SolarShare members held on June 21st.
May 2, 2012
The media for some reason seems intent on spreading the myth that the increasing costs of electricity in Ontario are mainly due to the addition of renewable energy, principally wind and solar, but nobody had really solid facts on the matter. Well that's all changed now. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has just released a new report detailing the resons for increasing electricity costs and while wind and solar did represent 6% of the increased costs, nuclear was the cause of 45% of the increase! So much for all the rhetoric about cheap nuclear power! Here are links to the OEB report itself and the Greenpeace press release about it.
Feb 15, 2012
An Environmental Review Tribunal report on the findings of health effects of wind turbines. The findings were "the Tribunal cannot find that the Kent Breeze Project operated according to the current Ontario standards “will cause serious harm to human health".
Feb 7, 2012
SolarShare was one of the final 10 contestants in the 2012 ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge. Matt Zipchen represented SolarShare and presented a compelling pitch, but alas SolarShare wasn't the winner.
Jan 31, 2012
With the phenominal amount of misinformation about wind energy, it's great to find a very thorough resource of frequently asked questions and detailed answers. Courteousy of Mindscape Innovations.
Jan 26, 2012
Call for a moritorium on car sales due to health effects? Yes! A great parody on the anti-wind groups by Glen Estill.
October 31, 2011
It has been some time since I have updated the news on my site, but my life has been on overload with the development of the TREC SolarShare Co-operative's 18 solar projects (now all complete and generating!), working at obtaining financing to build more projects and work related to the election. The election was a real concern to me because the Conservatives had vowed to kill the Feed-In Tariff program and this would have been a huge setback for Ontario's renewable energy industry. Luckily, Ontario citizens seemed to realize thet Hudak was full of criticisms but lacked any real plans of his own, at least as far as the future of Ontario's electrical supply.
March 10, 2011
Great article in Today's Toronto Star about the wind controversy by Derek Satnik.
March 7, 2011
Great news - we just closed a deal for our first SolarShare PVrooftop project! It will be a 438kW project occupying 110,000 square feet of roof space on a building in Mississauga. This brings the SolarShare projects up to almost $4 million and over 600kW of generation capacity.
Feb 23, 2011
The rate of growth in he solar industry world wide doubled in 2010 and the cost of solar modules is half of what it was in 2007 says a new report.
Feb 17, 2011
The Minister of Energy just issued a directive to the OPA to develop an energy supply mix plan, called an Intigrated Power System Plan (IPSP). Read it here.
Jan 31, 2011
A well done letter in rebuttal to the notion that green energy and Ontario's FIT programs are the reason for increased electricity prices was just written by Tim Weis of the Pembina Institute. Tim nails it. Read Tim's letter here.
Jan 26, 2011 - I'm tired of hearing renewable energy take the rap for rising electricty prices. Here is a great recap in retort of this, courtesy of Marion Fraser:
The top 10 reasons why your electricity bill has gone up:
1. You are using more. More TVs, more computers and it was very hot in August and September.
2. Prices have been held artificially low since 1991.
3. Any new generation costs more.
4. All new gas fired generators get paid whether they run or not.
5. The air is cleaner because coal is being phased out.
6. Asthma rates among children are down, and health costs are down as a result.
7. Nuclear cost overruns continue.
8. Catching up on overdue investment in transmission.
9. Lack of effective conservation programs keeps bills high.
10. Mike Harris made local electric distribution companies send money to municipal governments.
And let's not forget the HST hit! (ok, ok, so that's 11)
January 2nd, 2011 - Happy New Year everyone! Ever thought about travelling to some remote place and building solar systems to better the hlife of some less well off inhabitants? Well, an expedition is in the very early stages of being planned to the remote Amazon village of Alter Do Chao for the fall of 2011. Interested? Click here for more info.
December 30, 2010 - Sorry about the gap in news, but I have been on overload with the development of TREC SolarShare projects. I am pleased to report that we now have a number of 10kW ground-mount dual axis tracker systems under construction, with the goal of having at least 20 generating power on the grid by March. We've also ben hard at work on a large rooftop system which could be generating by May, but we're keeping that project under wraps for now. The first public offering for SolarShare should be announced in early April, and you can be sure that I will be spreading the word and it our marketing campaign will be ramping up. More as it happens.
July 27th - "Ontario Quarrels over Green Energy Value", is an article recently written by Paul McKay. Paul doesn't mince words in this article and knows the Ontario electricity market, having written books about it. Article here.
July 2nd - The OPA released a notice of 30 day consultation for a proposed price change to the MicroFIT program for ground-mount systems, proposing a reduction to the price from 80.2 cents to 58.8 cents/kWh. This will likely kill the economics for MicroFIT tracker systems and it certainly will shake investor oconfidence in the FIt and microFIT programs. Hopefully, the economics for fixed arrays will somehow be made to work if this goes through. Details here.
June 5th - OPA FIT Update. More than 14,000 FIT & MicroFIT applications have been received! The OPA is ramping up efforts to deal with the volume of applications. Details here.
May 20th - A definitive ruling has come from the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health on the impacts of wind turbines on human health. In a report released earlier today, Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer announced that “The scientific evidence does not demonstrate any direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.” Access the report here.
May 12th - Well it finally looks like the Canadian government is going to have to start taking meaningful steps towards dealing with climate change with the passing on May 5th of the third reading vote on the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311). This act requires that the Canadian federal government implement regulations and policies to attain a long-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below the 1990 level by 2050. Even the opposition voted in favour of it! Here is the press release.
April 29th- The OPA now has over 8,200 MicroFIT applications pending! Ontario is indeed embracing solar. Also this week, the motion in the House Of Commons to invoke a moritorium on the building of more wind projects was defeated. Peter Tabuns, the NDP Energy Critic gave a great speech about it. Read it here.
April 23rd - Great PR fr the FIT program, when TD Bank announces that they are now actively offering financing for MicroFIT (residential sized solar electric) systems. Watch the TV segment here.
April 8th - The OPA announced today almost 2,500 megawatts of FIT contracts were offered in 184 new projects, or enough to power 600,000 homes. Sadly, many projects couldn't yet proceed because Ontario's grid in many places can't handle the power, but work has begun on planning grid upgrades to handle the new, distributed energy sources.
March 31st - Germany's Renewable Energy Industry boomed in 2009, with RE making up a record 16.1% of Germany's entire electrical generation. This was just one of the interesting facts in the full German government report on their development of renewable energy sources 2009, just released.
Feb 23rd - Is the Samsung deal good for Ontario? An expert panel including Kris Stevens debates the issue on The Agenda with Steve Paiken.
Feb 11th - Six Nations signs a deal with Samsung to build a $40 million solar farm near Brantford.
Feb 5th - Canadian companies will be exempt from a protectionist "Buy American" clause in the U.S. government's $787-billion US economic stimulus package, the federal government announced today. Unfortunately, this won't cover renewable energy products! The reason is unclear, but this is unfortunate.
Jan 1st - I now have my first year's worth of solid data on my solar system's performance (PV & thermal) and comparisons to projected energy production and my home's energy use. Overall, I generated 11% more power than I used, despite a crappy year for sunshine. My work progresses on the SolarShare project and my new year's resolution was to see the first one generating in 2010.
Dec 14th - Al Gore praises Ontarios Green Energy Act as groundbreaking in North America.
Mayor David Miller's Copenhagen video features our Windshare turbine at Ex Place.
Dec 2 - A report just released from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes that there is no discernable impact on the values of homes due to nearby wind farms. The anti-wind groups won't like this news. Here's the report: <http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/ems/re-pubs.html>
Oct 29/09 An article by Richard Blackwell in today's Globe & Mail says that Ontario's new Green Energy Act could pump as much as $4.5-billion into the hands of the province's companies, utilities and power distribution firms. Here's hoping.
Oct 21/09 Great News: The OPA has just announced that systems under 500kW that were in operation before Oct 1, 2009 will be permitted to get FIT contracts and that the new domestic content rules will be waived! This is great news for the solar pioneers who had been feeling that they were left out in the cold by the program they helped pave the way for.
Oct 16/09 Now that the FIT program is live, the real work begins in proceeding to install systems. The hot topic issues right now are the Ontario content rules (felt by many in the industry to be too high in the 2011 requirements) and the jury is still out on whether the 550 meter minimum setback for wind turbines will kill many projects.
The OPA and Minister Smitherman still stand firm that projects (even the residential MicroFIT solar projects) constructed between the RESOP and the FITs programs must meet the (then unknown) local content rules. This seems patently unfair and here is an Ottawa Citizen story about Graham Findlay's problems which illustrate. A small opening from the Minister?
Sept 24/09 The FIT programs go live October 1st! Program rules, contracts, price schedules plus the Renewable Energy Approval (REA) and local content rules have all now been published. This should be interesting. Go to my FITs page here for more info.
August 14/09 The MicroFIT rules and contract have now been published and the rest of the FIT rules and agreements have now been gone over by all involved. The wait is not on for the local content rules and Renewable Energy Approval. Soon we all hope. Click here for MicroFIT Q&A that I have compiled.
July 3/09 Well we trudge on, but progress isn't coming as quickly as we'd like. The Ministry of Energy's Renewable Energy Approval (REA) needed a lot of changes and now that the consultations are over, we wait. I caouldn't see the merits of including rooftop solar in the REA process at all, and other people gave them the same feedback. At the moment, the whole FITs program will be held back until August or September due to Domestic Content Rules (actually provincial content, but that't not what they'e calling it), and hopefully next week, the revised FITs rules. Hopefully the simple Micro FIT program will be released sooner.
May 14/09 Hurrah, the Green Energy Act has passed! What alot of work that was. Now on to the resulting regulations and policies. A major step forward. I had the pleasure of getting into the presentation by Deb Doncaster and David Donnelly to George Smitherman, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. See the picture.
April 27/09 A vast majority of Ontarians support Ontario's proposed Green Energy Act, according to a public opinion poll released today by a coalition of environmental groups, farmers, labour unions, and industry associations. Eighty seven per cent (87%) of respondents said they support the proposed Green Energy Act. The poll shows support is widespread across the province, with the highest support in Northern Ontario (93%), Toronto (89%), and the GTA/905 (88%)
April 22/09 The Ontario Power Authority has recently conducted a renewable energy supply survey to better understand the near-term development potential of renewable projects. The survey results indicated a potential of 15,128MW of renewable energy supply, which could provide to 20% of Ontario's current consumption of electricity! Access the page here.
April 17/09 Michael Ignatieff wants Canadians to think big, including an east-west electricity corridor. Certainly, doing so at least between Ontario's golden horsehoe and Quebec could be the key to a nuclear-free Ontario, where 100% of our electricity comes from safe clean renewable sources, as has been proposed by the Ontario Clean Air Alliance. Unfortunately, in his recent book, it is revealed that this proposed corridor would be intended for the transmission of power from nuclear stations! Mr. Ignatieff will need further education here.
April 17/09 Having received White House backing, the Environmental Protection Agency declared Friday that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are a significant threat to human health and thus will be listed as pollutants under the Clean Air Act — a policy the Bush administration rejected. The move could allow the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, but it's more likely that the Obama administration will use the action to prod Congress to pass regulations around a system to cap and then trade emissions so that they are gradually lowered.
April 5/09: The Green Energy Act is progressing along nicely towards a June proclamation. Soon, anyone will be able to make a small profit on renewable energy systems and at the same time be part of the solution. This act should clear the way for a better future in a number of ways: cleaner air, a safer environment, increased energy price-stability and lack of dependence on oil with all the problems it brings.
April 1/09: The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-Operative is steaming right along, and this year will educate close to 10,000 school aged children on renewable energy and conservation. The highlight of our year is the Kid's World Of Energy Festival in May which is a roaring success in just its second year. Besides education, TREC is continuing the development of Our Power, a project to assist homeowners in purchasing solar electric and solar hot water systems, through the use of community buying groups. Our Power's goal for 2009 is to add 200 additional residential solar systems in Ontario.
March 24/09: Opposing wind farms should be socially taboo, says Ed Miliband. Opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, has said: "The government needs to be saying, 'It is socially unacceptable to be against wind turbines in your area - like not wearing your seatbelt or driving past a zebra crossing'." Plans to build some 4,000 onshore wind turbines are being opposed by more than 200 anti-wind farm groups. Read the whole article.
Jan 26/09: The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) was founded today in Bonn. IRENA is a milestone on the road towards a future-oriented energy supply. The German government's initiative for the founding of IRENA was actively supported from the outset by Spain and Denmark. The aim of the new Agency is to close throughout the world the gap between the enormous potential of renewables and their current relatively low market share in energy consumption. IRENA is the first international organisation to focus exclusively on the issue of renewable energies. The main work of IRENA will be to advise its members on creating the right frameworks, building capacity and improving financing and the transfer of technology and know-how for renewable energies. More than 100 government delegations from all over the world took part in the Conference. Full article here. About IRENA.
Sun, Wind and Water