In January 2013, Solar Nova Scotia released its recommendations to the provincial government for an electricity feed-in tariff.
"The Feed-In-Tariff or FIT, proposes a contract between Nova Scotia Power and a power producer," says Richard Vinson, chairman of Solar Nova Scotia, "For solar and any other renewable energy production to be practical, the producers have to get a fair price for the power they generate."
Ontario has had a feed-in tariff for renewable energy since 2006, and Germany has had an extremely successful program since 1990.
"Our proposed approach is based on the huge success of similar programs in other jurisdictions," says Vinson, "In Germany, for example, they are now generating twenty percent of their electricity from renewable sources, most of it from very small scale producers such as homeowners."
"The proposed feed-in tariff is substantially above the rate at which Nova Scotians buy electricity; there are some good reasons for this:
- NS has a commitment to switch a substantial amount of production to renewable sources;
- Our electrical rate does not reflect the full cost of electricity for several reasons, including various subsidies on the construction and operation of the thermal power plants, and the cost of decommissioning them at the end of their life.
- the utility and consumers are currently not paying the full price of electricity from other sources, such as coal, but this is starting to change.
- there are significant economic, health and environmental benefits associated with electricity from solar that can only be realized if the utility pays a fair price for the electricity generated.
- having a diversity of sources will enhance our energy security and price stability in the long term.
- the price of solar is coming down, so it is important to gradually and sustainably grow a solar industry in Nova Scotia so that we are ready to take full advantage of this energy resource as it becomes price competitive."
"Unlike the industrial sized renewable projects, this small scale Feed-In Tariff does not require Nova Scotia Power to upgrade the provincial electricity grid," says Meinhard Doelle, Solar Nova Scotia Board member, "because the electrical production better fits the usage cycle and distribution - that is, the electricity is produced during the day, much closer to where it is used."
One of the major challenges for Nova Scotia is creating a solid understanding of photovoltaics and how well the technology can perform in our climate.