We reached out to David Pichard, CDO, COO & Vice President, Americas with GP JOULE, to learn more about what they feel sets them apart in the industry and how they see the solar industry progressing over the next few years.
How do you see solar in Canada progressing over the next 5 years?
The new Federal government has shown a strong interest in supporting renewable energy. There exists a strong national commitment coming out of the Paris Climate Change conference last November to which the Prime Minister took all his Premiers.
Ontario on its own will experience challenging economics as tariffs go down, but it will remain a steady smaller market. The use of smarter technologies (reliable single axis trackers) combined with lean engineering and designs will be required and turning away from domestic main materials will also help projects to get built and get renewables closer to grid parity in the long run.
Alberta is on a big scale advancement for the renewable market but the question that remains is how much solar will carve out of the programs to be announced vs wind.
Saskatchewan will remain very small scale and by 2018 we anticipate to see more movement in BC.
Canada as a whole has made a commitment to renewable in a significant way.
As the renewable company that GP JOULE is, we feel very strongly about entering the Alberta market and we have taken steps in the past 10 months to secure land for projects various in scale. It is where renewable needs to be. We have come to understand the intricacies of this pure energy market and there is definitely room to grow.
In Ontario, there are substantial behind the meter opportunities (Net Metering) for large consumers/carbon emitters as well as off-grid opportunities due to the scale of country. The lack and cost of transmission infrastructure to feed remote communities such as first nations, cottage/resort owners, or even local farmers creates an opportunity for solar, coupled with increasingly smart and competitive storage systems. The solar market is here to stay and there will be a transformation with more niche, self-sustained solutions that develop in the years to come. A perfect example is the deployment of greenhouses with integrated PV, like the Cultiveco GP JOULE product.
What sets GP JOULE apart in industry?
GP JOULE offers global representation. We were attracted to the feed in tariff structure that was similar to what we were familiar with in Germany, France, Italy & Spain and came to Canada in late 2011.
As a corporation, we have been engineering, building, developing, financing and operating solar plants for the past 13 years while developing market-driven products GP JOULE has seen projects through more than half of their typical 20-year life cycle. We have a huge advantage as we understand the long-term benefits of some engineering and financing decisions made early on and some operational and maintenance issues solar farms could be faced with in the mid to long term – our mission is to de-risk the return of these investments from day 1 at the most competitive market price. We have the ability, being vertically integrated, to control the risk to the investors by choosing to work with JP GOULE to finance, build or engineer these projects and use our proven technologies (PHLEGON Single Axis Tracker, Cultiveco PV Greenhouse, etc).
The Ontario market is more mature having been through two rounds of feed in tariffs but there is still a lot to do and learn.
Why do you feel that involvement in CanSIA & their solar conferences is beneficial to GP JOULE?
We been active members since we established our North American Headquarters in Toronto in late 2011 and I was also personally involved in previous years with 2 other Canadian solar companies, primarily focused on the Ontario market. I personally always tried and enjoyed introducing CanSIA staff to our side of the business, either it being material domestic manufacturing, solar installation, solar parks or new technology.
We find there is definitely value for GP JOULE to continue supporting the industry. We understand the advocacy & policy work CanSIA is doing which is extremely important. We have been involved through sponsorship packages for all the conferences across the country consistently and have been successful for 2 years at the Gala awards in being at least acknowledged for our work, but still waiting for the big prize! We will continue exhibiting at Solar Ontario, Solar West and Solar Canada. A lesser number of companies will continue to exhibit as economics are difficult and competition is fiercer under the non-domestic content arrangement in Ontario and other markets are still forming. People have cut marketing quite a bit and the conferences will become more of a focus and we will continue to help the industry by participating on panels.
GP JOULE strives to continue being recognized as an educator and a ‘people company’, and being present and sponsor the shows where we can. Active participation and attendance is a demonstration of our commitment to support the association in the long run.