The rooftop rush is on as Ontario feed-in-tariff program gathers momentum

Hamilton%2C%20Tyler45X64.jpgPosted by Tyler Hamilton
It’s like one of those pioneer land rushes that we’ve read about so much in history. Now that Ontario, through its new feed-in tariff program, is prepared to pay richly for the electricity that comes from commercial rootop PV systems, there’s a mad dash to lock up rooftop spaces around the province. googleplex-massive-solar-panel-array-199X143.jpgDozens of companies have flooded the market cold-calling property owners and asking them if they’d like to sign 20-year leases for access to their rooftops. Some offer to pay an annual rent based on a certain amount of dollars per square foot, while others are offering a percentage of annual electricity revenues that come from the government program. It’s a no-brainer for the property owner, so long as they make sure their rooftop can handle the weight of both the PV system and the winter snow loads typical in a Canadian climate. Property owners also need to be cautious about who they’re dealing with. Will the project be insured in case there’s damage to the roof? Leaks? And what if the roof needs repairs 10 years into the 20-year contract? Kind of hard to make the fix when there are solar panels layered over top.
For my recent article in the Toronto Star on this latest real-estate trend, click here. Greta Energy, Canadian Solar, CarbonFree Technology, Ozz Solar, Enfinity Canada, Rumble Energy and Helios Energy are among the companies now pushing this rooftop-lease approach.
Keep in mind that solar PV isn’t the only rooftop game in town. In fact, there are many in the solar-thermal business who are feeling the heat — so to speak — because of all the rooftop space being snatched up by the PV folks. It raises the question: What’s the best use for these rooftops, solar thermal or solar PV? Solar PV can work in any situation, but there may be some large rooftop spaces that are more ideal for solar thermal. For example, today the University of Toronto announced that its athletic centre has installed 100 solar thermal panels that will provide hot water for showers and laundry machines in the facility. That’s an ideal use for the roof, and it will reduce natural gas use during summer peak months by 25 per cent. Other ideal candidates for solar thermal include hospitals, schools, senior’s homes, and anywhere where there’s a high density of people who use a lot of hot water through the day and into the early evening. What would be interesting is the installation of dual thermal-PV systems, which companies like Conserval Engineering are working on

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