Canada has no policies to enable large-scale renewable energy adoption.
Countries such as Germany and Spain are world leaders in renewable energy and provide clear examples of what can be achieved quickly if the right policy mechanisms are in place.
Their leadership and success are based on a set of common factors:
- Active political commitment for renewable energy
- Supportive education initiatives for research and development, training and public awareness
- Strong incentive systems to achieve wide public participation
Some policy measures already used around the world to support renewable energy development include fuel taxes based on carbon content (e.g., Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland) and mandates for ethanol and biodiesel blending (e.g., Brazil, India, United States).
Commonly used policy tools for installing renewable energy in buildings include renewable energy programs (e.g., solar rooftop initiatives) supported by capital incentives and/or low-interest loans (e.g., California, Germany, and Japan).
For power generation, two policies are now used worldwide: renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and feed-in tariffs, also known as advanced renewable tariffs (ARTs).
RPS are in essence targets for renewable energy that allow grid operators to use their own means to meet legal green-power targets. They are used in Australia, Canada (Ontario and Nova Scotia), Japan, Poland, the United Kingdom and 21 U.S. states including Texas and California.
Countries that are leading in manufacturing and installation of renewable energy systems have achieved their success by establishing ARTs. The concept is simple: ARTs help connect renewable systems to the grid and, over a period of 20 years, specify fixed prices to be paid for renewable energy generation.
Legislation determines the premiums to be paid for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated from different renewable technologies. Premiums are not just differentiated by technology but also by the size of projects and productivity of the resource. ARTs eliminate two of the biggest obstacles inhibiting renewable energy development: the ability to connect to the grid, and market uncertainty (by providing fair prices for an extended period of time to warrant the financial risk of investment).