Samsung and Ontario row back on renewables commitment

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With Korean electronics giant Samsung announcing on Thursday a C$5 billion (US$4.8 billion) investment as part of a C$6 billion funding package to develop 1.36 GW of renewables for Ontario by 2016, a solar consultant in the province has told pv magazine, it is time to accentuate the positives.

The Ontario energy department confirmed the figure has been reduced from the C$9.7 billion originally pledged in 2010, which was for 2.5 GW of wind and solar with Samsung providing C$7 billion of the cash.

But solar consultant Antonio Antonopoulos says the reduced commitment is merely a reflection of how overly generous the province's 2009 FIT payment of C$0.44 is in 2013 and for projects going forward and the fact that fears of insufficient electricity generation and power blackouts spelt out by the government at that point have failed to materialise.

"It's good news because it is still a sizeable commitment from Samsung at a time when the 2008 recession removed a lot of manufacturing demand."

WTO ruling not the motivation for reduction

Antonopoulos added that with Samsung having initially committed to developing manufacturing facilities in Canada or to partner with local manufacturers to provide jobs, the company may have realised its commitments were overambitious and that the WTO ruling may have been in their minds but was unlikely to be the sole driver behind the reduced commitment.

The Ontario Ministry of Energy told pv magazine it had worked with the Korean consortium led by Samsung to ‘update' the 2010 Green Energy Investment agreement ‘to increase local control over renewable energy projects, create jobs and protect ratepayers.'

Energy Ministry press secretary Beckie Codd-Downey explained the original plan for five phases of development, each consisting of 400 MW wind and 100 MW solar, had been modified by removing the final two phases and reducing Samsung's commitment in phase three for a total reduction of 1,131 MW in capacity.

In a press release announcing the amendment of Samsung's original commitment, Ki-Jung Kim, Samsung C&T's executive VP, said: "Changing economic conditions in the province and our vital work to engage our communities have impacted our original timelines. The revised agreement allows us to deliver 1,369 MW within timelines that take into account these realities."

The projects in the first two phases, including 100 MW of solar as part of the Grand Renewable Energy Park in Haldimand County and the 100 MW Kingston North project in Kingston and Loyalist Township, will proceed as planned.

The projects to developed in phase three are yet to be determined.

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