Contributing Author: Simon Hall

According to a recent report by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), Ontario was the third-largest North American market for solar photovoltaic (PV) installation in 2009. In total, the province installed 46 megawatts (MW) of solar PV last year, behind only California (212 MW) and New Jersey (57 MW). In terms of total solar PV capacity, Ontario now sits in fourth place with 48 MW, compared to 59 MW in Colorado, New Jersey’s 128 MW, and California’s 768 MW.

Ontario Solar Installation Heading for Record Year in 2010

Although 2009 was a record year for the province, according to the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA), 2010 could be even stronger, with the association predicting another 100-200 MW of solar PV capacity for Ontario. Already, 100 MW of projects have been installed throughout the province, with an additional 100 slated for a number of larger projects in the pipeline. By 2011, Ontario’s solar PV capacity could run as high as 250 MW. The Ontario Power Authority had 486 MW contracted at the end of 2009, which, if fulfilled this year, could make Ontario the largest market in North America for solar PV installation and training in 2010.

Climbing the Solar Capacity Ladder

The feed-in tariff program, introduced to kick-start Ontario’s solar installation and training markets in 2008, has prompted unprecedented growth over the past two years. CanSIA's 2009 prediction suggests that solar installation and green job creation will only increase. While California is likely to hold onto its top solar capacity position in the immediate future, Ontario will almost certainly leapfrog Colorado into third place for total solar PV capacity in 2010. Projecting the growth experienced this year onto 2011, Ontario could also overtake New Jersey for second place in solar capacity by 2012.

Room for Growth in Ontario Solar Installation

The rapid increase in solar PV installation and training programs throughout Ontario is cause for optimism, especially when one compares the province's expansion with other solar hot spots around the world. Solar PV installation in Ontario is off to a great start and already ranks the province among the leading American states. Germany, a leading solar market, is projecting installation of as much as 5000 MW solar PV in 2010. The impressive numbers reported for Germany, while daunting in comparison to those of North American states and Ontario, also serve as an example of how much growth can still take place in the solar energy market.