As at Dec 31, 2015, Canada had 144 megawatts (MW) of installed solar capacity, which is equivalent to 16.3% of its total electricity generation. Its solar intensity is equivalent to 4.3 billion kWh per year, and the country gets around 75% of its electricity from renewable sources. This is according to the latest report from the Solar Energy Industry Association of Canada (SEIAC). The association is a not-for-profit organization, which provides strategic support, data and research to the solar industry in Canada.
Canada has long been seen as a nation of environmentalists and green energy enthusiasts. It currently has very high standards when it comes to energy generation, and it actively promotes solar power. This trend is set to continue, as reported by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)
The Growth Of Wind And Solar In Canada
In the decade to Dec 31, 2015, Canada’s installed wind power capacity increased by 82%, from 22.7 MW to 48.6 MW. Over the same period, solar power capacity rose by 118%, from 8 MW to 16.3 MW. BNEF sees this trend continuing, and projects that by 2020, Canada will have more than 100 MW of installed wind capacity and 100 MW of solar power capacity.
The Reasons For The Growth
The main reason for the growth in wind and solar energy in Canada is the federal government’s Feed In Tariff (FiT) scheme, which provides financial support for homeowners who generate their own electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind energy. In order to qualify for the FiT, the generating equipment must be installed onshore, and it must be capable of producing at least 1.8 MW. In addition to the FiT, the Canadian government also provides direct subsidies for solar power.
The Cost Of Solar Energy
The cost of solar energy in Canada has continued to come down, thanks to significant price drops in the past few years. In the 2015, the cost of solar power was around 4.8 Canadian dollars (CAD$) per kW, according to the SEIAC report. This is compared to over 7 CAD$/kW in 2010. As a result of this decline, more and more businesses and homeowners in Canada are going green and are turning to solar power to generate their electricity. This is particularly true for homes, but it also extends to commercial and industrial buildings.
Along with its decreasing cost, solar power also offers homeowners in Canada a great tax benefit. As mentioned, the federal government provides substantial tax breaks and incentives for individuals who generate their own electricity from renewable sources. In order to qualify for these tax benefits, you must meet certain conditions. One of them is that you must install solar panels on your roof. The SEIAC report states that based on the 2014 tax benefit application process, the cost of a residential solar system was 2.2 times greater than the cost of a wind-generated system. However, the report also notes that the system will generate significant tax benefits, which make up for the additional cost.
Another great benefit that solar power provides to homeowners in Canada is the ability to net meter. Under the North American Electricity Grid (NAEG), all electricity consumers (i.e., everybody) are connected to the grid and have access to a common pool of electricity. When a customer produces more electricity than they consume, they are able to sell the excess back to the grid. In return, they are compensated for the electricity they have produced.
This is called net metering, and it provides a great deal of flexibility when it comes to generating and using power.
No More Diesel Generators
Diesel generators are expensive and emit large amounts of smog-forming pollutants. As at Dec 31, 2015, there were approximately 50,500 MW of diesel generators across the globe, according to the SEIAC report. While this is a large number, it represents a decrease of nearly 80% from the 2010 level of 125,600 MW. This makes diesel generators one of the most avoided technologies when it comes to new electrical power plant investment.
A Better, More Sustainable Fuels Source
Another great thing about solar power is that it provides a completely sustainable source of energy. This is because the sun will never run out, and it provides free energy to those who are able to harness it. As long as there are people on earth, there will be enough sunshine to power them. There are also many benefits to be derived from solar power, not just electricity generation.
Solar energy can be used to provide heat for buildings, and it can also be transformed into hot water for homes or businesses. It can even be used to generate hydropower, providing an alternative renewable energy source.
The Growth Of Bioenergy
Not only does solar power provide an excellent source of electricity, it also serves as a platform for deploying renewable energy technologies such as wind and biofuels. Biofuels are a renewable source of fuel that derives from plants or animals. They do not deplete global resources like oil and gas, and they also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Growth Of Renewable Energy
In conclusion, the main reason why Canada has seen such strong growth in both wind and solar power is due to government policy and the falling cost of these technologies. This growth is likely to continue, as more and more businesses and homeowners in Canada realize the many benefits that these renewable energy sources provide. While solar panels on your roof may not sound like everyone’s dream, the reality is that more and more people are realizing that these panels can provide them with great flexibility and savings in the long run.