December 19, 2016    
A Note from CanSIA's Patrick Bateman and Ben Weir  
2016 was a pivotal year for the Canadian solar industry. Many opportunities began to materialize, coupled with uncertainty, as markets and policies were introduced, revised and removed.  

What are the factors that defined the 2016 year for solar and what will the implications be for 2017? We feel that they fall into three broad themes:
Theme #1: Climate Action Is Driving Energy PolicyTheme1
2016 will be remembered as the year that: the " Paris Agreement" targeted limiting the global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; the " Vancouver Declaration on Clean Growth and Climate Change" aligned Canada's provinces and territories toward a collaborative approach to climate action; and the " Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change" defined our first national climate action strategy that includes goals of 30% emissions reductions, 90% non-emitting electricity and the phase-out of coal by 2030.

In 2017 the playing-field will continue to level between emitting and non-emitting sources.  Investment will be made in the technologies that will deliver emissions reductions.  Climate action will drive energy policy.  CanSIA will continue to work to support consultations on the design and implementation of emissions reductions programs and regulatory mechanisms, advance the role of solar in provincial supply-mix planning and to build and maintain public confidence & support.

Here are a selection of CanSIA's climate action highlights from 2016:
Theme #2: Utilities & Regulators Addressing Distributed SolarTheme2
2016 will be remembered as the year that Distributed Energy Resources (DER) "arrived" in the United States as market participants, residential solar hard costs dipped below $3/W CAD (which is lower than many parts of the United States) and residential storage became a household concept.

In 2017 utilities and regulators across Canada will be evaluating the role of DER on their grids and assessing their level of preparedness for the cleaner, smarter and more consumer-driven future.  "Self Consumption" is becoming the dominant solar business model.  The rate of modernization of existing regulatory frameworks will determine the scale and pace of solar market growth.  Addressing "soft costs" will be more important than ever.  CanSIA will continue to advocate for best practice treatment of solar with rate and tariff design, virtual net-metering, community solar and interconnection processes and costs.

Here are a selection of CanSIA's utilities and regulatory highlights from 2016:
Theme #3: Prairies Are Taking The Lead On Utility-Scale Solar ElectricityTheme3
2016 will be remembered as the year that Ontario contracted utility-scale solar at $150/MWh then suspended future procurements as Alberta Infrastructure and the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) explored 135,000 MWh per year of solar
and launched the Renewable Electricity Program (REP) (resp.) and Saskatchewan launched the first 10 of their 60 MW of utility-scale procurements.

In 2017 the prairies are taking the lead on utility-scale solar electricity (in support of  climate action in their electricity sectors).  The price discovery in these jurisdictions with the best solar resource in Canada will bring all elected officials and members of the public to a realization that what they thought they knew about solar energy is not the starting point that we are building from today.

In these provinces, procurement design will be key to competitiveness and lower costs will drive greater long-term scale and pace. CanSIA will continue to support procurement launches, advocating for best practice treatment of solar in: fuel-neutral procurements, capacity markets, advocate for appropriate utility-scale solar role in Ontario's Long Term Energy Plan (LTEP) and build and maintain public confidence & support.

Here are a selection of CanSIA's utility-scale highlights from 2016:
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