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The sun: it’s something we all know and love. It allows our plants to thrive and is responsible for all life on earth! Not only that (I know, it’s hard to beat being responsible for LIFE), but it also has huge potential to power our lives, technologically speaking.
I’m sure you’ve heard of solar power before. Maybe you’ve seen a field of solar panels or one of your neighbours has solar panels on their roof. Well, despite the widespread knowledge of solar power, less than 1% of Canada’s electricity generation is harnessed through the sun! I think there’s some room to improve, don’t you? That’s why we’ve compiled some common questions about solar power usage in Canada and answered them for you!
What Exactly IS Solar Power?
Well, first, we should let you know about the difference between solar energy and solar power.
Solar Energy: Describes the heat and light produced by the sun.
Solar Power: The conversion of sunlight into electricity.
So, when we use solar panels, the solar energy of the sun is converted into direct current electricity (solar power) through the semiconductors in the panel.
The reason solar power has so much potential is because it’s a renewable energy and does not directly emit greenhouse gases (apart from the production and installation of the panels). As well, if installed directly on your home or building, solar panels don’t affect local habitats, thus leaving the local flora and fauna undisturbed!
Photos credits: Unsplash / Todd Aarnes
Where Do I Begin?
Before you install solar panels, you have to evaluate whether your house is in an ideal location to produce solar power. The more sunlight your house receives, the more production potential you have. Generally, houses with a south facing roof work best, but east and west facing work as well.
You should also keep in mind that solar panels generally last over 20 years, so if your roof shingles are due for replacement, complete that project before panel installation!
Luckily, there are numerous companies that specialize in solar panel installation that will be able to assess your house and it’s ability to produce solar power. Just look up companies in your area to get started!
Isn’t it Expensive?
You probably have doubts about solar power due to the upfront costs of purchasing and installing solar panels…and we get it! It can be daunting to purchase something so substantial and change the way you produce your electricity.
Luckily, Canada’s market for solar panels has seen a steady decline in prices, making solar power even more attainable! As well, the cost of solar power changes depending on many factors, such as the size of the system you need, solar incentives available in your province, the company/equipment that you use, and the amount of irradiance (sunlight) that your province receives. So, your costs may be even lower than you think!
Photo Credits: Pexels/Los Muertos Crew
Incentives, Grants, and Rebates!!
Depending on what province you live in, the availability of (or your access to) incentives and rebates varies. If you live in one of the provinces listed below, then you’re in luck and have access to the incentive and rebate programs available! Even if you don’t live in any of these provinces, as long as you live in Canada you could be eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, where you can receive money for installing solar panels on your home!
Alberta: Banff Solar Photovoltaic Production Incentive, Canmore Solar Incentive, Change Homes for Climate Solar Program, Medicine Hat Solar Electric Rebate, Equs Solar Incentive, Alberta Municipal Solar Program
New Brunswick: Total Home Energy Savings Program
Northwest Territories: Alternative Energy Technologies Program
Nova Scotia: SolarHomes Program
Prince Edward Island: Solar Electric Rebate Program
Unfortunately, Manitoba, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan currently have no solar incentive programs for homeowners.
Are you a business owner looking to install solar panels on your building? Well, lucky for you, the Federal Tax Provision for Clean Energy Equipment allows you to fully expense your solar panel system!
Photo Credits : Pixabay/Planet_Fox
What Happens in the Winter?
At this point, you might be asking the question, “Well, I live in Canada, so won’t our cold and snowy climate affect the solar panels?”. While that is a common and unsurprising assumption (I mean, seriously, sometimes the amount of snow we get is ridiculous!), solar panels actually work better in cooler temperatures. A 5-year study conducted by the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology found that solar panels only lose approximately 3% of their energy production due to snow buildup in the winter. In fact, the angle that solar panels are placed at plays a much larger role in energy production, with the ideal angle for maximum production (even with snow accumulation) being 45 degrees.
Not only does snow have a very limited effect on solar panel production, but it can actually be beneficial! Over the course of a year, solar panels collect dust and dirt, limiting the production of energy. Snow acts as a sort of windshield washer for solar panels, helping clean them as it melts off.
Still Unsure About Solar Panels?
If we still haven’t convinced you, you have more questions, or you want to learn about other types of renewable energy, why not check out our Switch to Renewable website? We’ve broken renewable energy down by province and by user (Homeowner/Renter, Business, and Municipality) so it’s easier to understand what your needs are and how you can meet them!
Thank you for helping to create a more renewable Canada!
Cost of Solar Power in Canada 2021, Energy Hub
Let it Snow: How Solar Panels Can Thrive in Winter Weather, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Photovoltaic Solar Power, Hydro Québec
Start Your Energy-Efficient Retrofits, Government of Canada
Switch to Renewable, Earth Day Canada
2021 Provincial Solar Power Guides & Rankings, Energy Hub
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