The Role of Policies in Supporting the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Systems: Experiences with Ontario, Canada’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program
Traditionally, high initial capital costs and lengthy payback periods have been identified as the most significant barriers that limit the diffusion of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In November, 2006, the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) introduced the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP), offering owners of solar PV systems with a generation capacity under 10 MW a 20 year contract to sell electricity back to the grid at a guaranteed rate of CAD $0.42/kWh. While it is the intent of incentive programs such as the RESOP to begin to lower financial barriers in order to increase the uptake of solar PV systems, there is no guarantee that the level of participation will in fact rise. The "on-the-ground" manner in which consumers interact with such an incentive program ultimately determines its effectiveness. This paper analyzes the relationship between the RESOP and solar PV system consumers. Experiences of current RESOP participants are presented, wherein the factors that are either hindering or promoting utilization of the RESOP and the adoption of solar PV systems are identified.
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