Advancing Renewable Energy In the Atlantic Provinces

Publication Date: 
February 5, 2010

A key component of accelerating the deployment of clean renewable energy sources is a policy known as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). Under FITs, governments set cost-based rates for various types of renewable energy to allow modest
profits to all interested developers of renewable energy technologies.

Generating electricity from local renewable energy sources can help decentralize electricity production while functioning as an industrial development engine to stimulate business in local economies across the region. This can help restore a
sense of sustainability and self-reliance in the Atlantic Provinces.

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ADVANCING RENEWABLE ENERGY IN THE ATLANTIC PROVINCES

BY FRED WINSOR, CHAIR ,SIERRA CLUB - ATLANTIC CANADA


Background

Increased public awareness over climate change, supported by visual evidence of melting ice caps and more intense storms and hurricanes has jolted governments around the world to review, reconsider, and rethink their positions on greenhouse gas emissions and realize that significant measures need to be adopted to profoundly reduce climate destabilizing emissions. One of the measures identified in this process has been the need to promote and expand clean renewable energy generation.

Technologies to generate electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biogas have been present for many decades; experience in Europe in the early 1990s in countries like Germany, Denmark and Spain has shown that renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biogas and geothermal can provide reliable, inexpensive forms of electricity while helping transition economies toward a more sustainable energy future.

Faced with the prospect of increasingly volatile and expensive fossil fuels, implementing policies to encourage renewable energy generation will become increasingly important in shielding our economies from the growing risks of fossil fuel price increases. Economies that strategically reduce their exposure to these price shocks are likely to outperform those that do not. 

The European and Ontario Policy Models

A key component of accelerating the deployment of clean renewable energy sources is a policy known as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT). Under FITs, governments set cost-based rates for various types of renewable energy to allow modest profits to all interested developers of renewable energy technologies.

This cost-based feed-in tariff system has proven to be the most successful renewable energy policy in the world, having been implemented in over 60 countries on five continents.

In May 2009, Ontario launched its Green Energy and Green Economy Act. This legislation, modeled closely on the German experience, is expected to kick-start industrial development of renewable energy production in that province, and deliver over 10 000 MW of new electrical generating capacity.

Environmental and Economic Benefits    

Experience around the world demonstrates that widespread renewable energy development has sparked significant economic growth in the renewable energy sector. This can provide a foundation for the transition to a more sustainable energy economy, by generating employment in the sectors that are going to be important engines of economic growth in the decades to come.

In Germany alone, this policy has resulted in more than 300,000 new jobs. Ontario expects to create over 50 000 new jobs over the next few years as a result of adopting the German approach.

Generating electricity from local renewable energy sources can help decentralize electricity production while functioning as an industrial development engine to stimulate business in local economies across the region. This can help restore a sense of sustainability and self-reliance in the Atlantic Provinces.


The Positive Renewable Energy Development for the Atlantic Provinces

The challenge in the years ahead is to implement legislation to make the development of renewable energy sources viable on a broader scale. What are needed are policies that will make investments in new renewable energy sources possible, and financially viable.

This process starts by adopting strong Feed-in Tariffs legislation to advance the deployment of renewable energy sources in the Atlantic region. In this way, the Atlantic region can begin replicating the success of countries that are now leading the way, creating jobs and laying the foundation for the growth of entirely new economic sectors. Implementing legislation to encourage the deployment of renewable energy sources offers an unprecedented opportunity to reduce green house gas emissions, while stimulating new economic activity in the industries that are going to power the 21st Century. The potential for Feed-in Tarriff legislation in Atlantic Canada is strong as it provides a positive and popular way for governments to enhance renewable energy development that also benefits residents and communities.

In sum, renewable energy production can help revitalize the economies of Atlantic Canadian cities, towns, and villages, while helping move the region as a whole toward a more sustainable energy future.
 

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