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Rooftop Rentals Soar in Canada, Australia

Credits: ©2010 Susan Kraemer / CleanTechnica

Since September, when the Ontario Power Authority began its generous payment for rooftop solar power, Toronto’s commercial roof acreage has become the site of a new renewable energy gold rush by solar developers now able to earn a steady income farming solar power to local utilities for 20 years. Just as farmers in Texas or Iowa can now earn royalties from wind developers to allow them to place wind turbines on their farm, now commercial building owners in Toronto can earn income from their roofs. Solar developers are willing to rent a part of a building that previously had no value, that is now prime solar real estate. How much is this new income for the building owner? It could be as much as $12,000 a year.


Rental Solar WECS Electric

A commercial building array on WECS Electric. ©2010 WECS Electric

Ontario Power Authority will now pay between 53 cents and 71 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar electricity. The utility guarantees a speedy, expedited connection to the grid so solar developers can be assured of a quick start to their earnings. And they are not the only beneficiary. The building owner and the solar developer both stand to gain.

Under the arrangement the utility pays the Feed-in Tariff amount monthly for 20 years.

Once built, the solar farms can be expected to generate a steady income for 20 years to the solar developer.

Once they sign the lease, the solar companies design, build, and perform the maintenance on the system at no cost to the building owner. Both the solar developer and the building owner can earn money on the deal. Either a percent of the monthly payments from the utility can go directly to the building owner, or the solar developer can simply pay rent, averaging about 30 cents per square foot.

For example, a 250-kilowatt system that would take up 40,000 square feet on the roof would mean the building owner would earn about $1,000 a month in rent. At the end of the 20 year contract with the utility, the solar developer transfers the system to the building owner who then can benefit from the electricity for what could potentially be at least another 20 years, at slightly less efficiency.

Alternatively, compensation might be a guarantee to supply solar-sourced electricity over two decades for less than what a building owner currently pays, as CarbonFree Technology of Toronto has done. Of course the building has to undergo inspection to ensure that it can take the weight of such large solar arrays, because it may not have been engineered to handle that kind of load. (at least to put onto buildings) solar arrays.

Since September 1st, when the offer was announced, business has taken off. GTE, Ozz Solar, Helios Energy, Rumble Energy and SunOne Energy Canada are among a growing list of solar rooftop space aggregators knocking on doors.


Additional article on Australia Rentals:
by Susan Kraemer in CleanTechnica
Australians Will Be Able to Earn $10,000 a Year Supplying Grid From Rooftop Solar

The New South Wales government has just introduced a Solar Bonus Scheme that could have residents earning as much as $10,000 a year to send clean electricity to the grid from solar panels on their own roofs.

The incentive is a Feed-in Tariff like the one that was so popular in Germany that they ran out of solar panels last year, and that shook up the global solar market when Spain introduced theirs a few years ago, because they paid enough so that average homeowners could earn money from adding solar panels on their roofs.

The NSW government expects that most homeowner’s earnings would tend to be more in the range of $1,500 a year, just based on extra roof space estimates. But they could be in for a surprise. German homeowners were very resourceful in finding space somewhere for solar arrays, even over fences, churches, barns and pastures, once offered a way to pay for a renewable energy power plant without going into debt.

A Feed-in Tariff is a cash payment for renewable electricity produced, by anybody. You don’t have to be a utility to make electricity and supply it to the grid.

If you have enough space (and sun) on your roof to supply both your own electricity needs and some extra for the grid, that extra going to the grid is paid for by your utility.

Two essentials are needed to make a Feed-in Tariff succeed:

1. The payment must be cash. A “credit” on your bill that expires at the end of each year, like California offers, tends to discourage homeowners from installing over-sized systems that send free energy to the utility.

2. At least two to one payment ratio. The relationship between the retail cost that you pay for your utility electricity, and the amount that your utility must pay you if you supply it.

Germany initially paid three times the retail rate.

NSW electricity costs 19 cents per kwh, and they will pay 60 cents per kwh. That is why this is poised for the same kind of rocketing success that Germany saw with three times retail, and perhaps even more, as Australia is blessed with great insolation.

Both the German and the Spanish programs have contributed to the drop in solar prices that benefit everybody worldwide, by increasing solar adoption so fast.

The three-to-one rates don’t have to remain that high. Germany has now tapered down its incentive to two times the retail rate.

Feed-in Tariffs are a way to push renewable energy onto the grid fast and affordably, both for homeowners, and for utility ratepayers who no longer have to subsidize either the new utility-scale power plants that would otherwise have to be built, or the new transmission costs to bring the power from them.


Additional article about Duke Energy's Rooftop Solar Projects
from the Charlotte Business Journal

Duke Energy Carolinas will install solar panels at four N.C. businesses — including Childress Klein Properties Inc., Food Lion and National Gypsum Co. —in the first phase of its $50 million rooftop solar project.

Duke will own and operate 2,314 panels, with a capacity of 532 kilowatts, on one of Childress Klein’s buildings in the North Park Business Park. Childress Klein spokesman Landon Wyatt says it will be Building 19, at 6935 Reams Road.

It is a spec building, he said, and not yet occupied. "We are delighted to be involved in this project with Duke," Wyatt says.

Meanwhile, Duke will install 5,096 rooftop panels, with a capacity of 1.2 megawatts, at National Gypsum’s manufacturing plant in Mount Holly. And 5,616 panels, with a capacity of 1.3 megawatts, are planned for the roof of Food Lion’s distribution center in Salisbury.

The only installation outside the Charlotte region will be in Greensboro. Duke will install 7,020 panels, with a capacity of 1.6 megawatts, on Highwoods Properties Inc.’s building in Enterprise Park.

The Charlotte-based utility also plans smaller solar projects at residential customer homes. None of those are included in the initiative’s first round.

The projects announced Tuesday total about 4.6 megawatts of capacity. That’s nearly half the capacity Duke plans to install in the pilot project.

The first round of installations will be completed by the end of March. When the full project is built out, Duke estimates the panels will produce enough energy to serve as many as 1,300 homes.

The utility, part of Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE:DUK), has 2.4 million customers in the Carolinas.

“This distributed solar generation program remains one of the country’s largest programs of its kind and further demonstrates our commitment to renewable energy investment,” Brett Carter, president of Duke Energy Carolinas, says in a prepared statement.

Duke Energy is the third-largest electric power holding company in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve about 4 million customers in five states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.


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