Why should I install solar panels?
Installing a solar PV array on your property is an excellent way to reduce your environmental impact, lower electricity costs and increase your energy independence. You can take control of your electricity production and consumption and enjoy knowing that you are benefiting yourself and our environment. By generating your own clean energy from the sun, you are taking advantage of a renewable energy source while protecting yourself from rising energy costs.
Is Alberta a good place to have solar panels?
Alberta sees approximately 315 to 333 days of sunshine in a year, more than any other province in Canada. Our cooler temperatures mixed with lots of sun is great for solar energy production. A cooler solar module will produce more voltage than a hot one, making Alberta an ideal place to have solar panels on your roof.
Are there government incentives in Alberta for installing solar panels?
ALBERTA MICRO-GENERATION REGULATION
The Alberta Micro Generation Regulation allows you to connect your solar array to the grid and receive credit for the electricity you export to the grid. The compensation for your exported electricity is equal to the rate that you pay for electricity from the grid. So if you are paying 9 cents/kWh for the energy you consume, you will receive 9 cents/KWH for the electricity you send back to the grid.
For a current list of government incentives to encourage investment in solar energy, please visit the Solar Alberta Grants and Incentives page.
How will Alberta’s snow and cold affect my solar array?
Many question if cold and snow hamper solar yield. This can be true if there is a build up of snow on your panels, but a properly designed system will shed the snow after a few hours of sunlight. The solar modules heat up and the snow slides off. Cold weather has shown to improve panel efficiency. A PV temperature decrease of 20 degrees celsius leads to a 9 to 12% increase
in production. The cooler your solar modules, the more efficient they will be.
Solar production is considerably lower in the winter months, than the summer months in Alberta, but this is due to the reduction in hours of sunlight and not due to temperatures or snow.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has specific information to address questions regarding the impact of array tilt angles and snow accumulation on overall system production.
Will my solar panels stand up to hail?
Yes, Solar modules designed around International standards can withstand hail traveling at 50mph. Also they usually do not take direct hits from falling debris, due to the modules being installed on an angle.
How long will my solar array continue producing?
Your solar panels (modules) are warrantied for 20+ years. It is usually a linear performance warranty, (e.g.) after 25 years the module will still be producing 80% of its rated output. There are solar panels still in operation that were installed in the 1970s. A solar array requires minimal maintenance, has no moving parts, and is therefore; easy to enjoy and benefit from for many years.
What is the expected PV energy payback?
A misconception about PV technology is that it takes more energy to produce a PV solar array than the system will produce in its lifetime. This is not the case. Recent studies of energy payback time (EPBT) estimate that it takes a PV system one to three years to produce the same amount of energy that it took to manufacture it. PV arrays are expected to last 25 years or longer, therefore; far exceeding their EPBT. Once the EPBT is complete, the array is producing clean energy, setting it apart from conventional, fossil-fuel based power generation.
What happens at night?
During the night, when the sun is down, your solar array is not producing power. You will be drawing electricity from the local power grid (grid-tied systems). Another option for grid-tied systems, is to install a smart battery system that charges during the day from your solar array and supplies your electrical needs at night.
When you have solar panels on your roof, you can choose to run your highest demand appliances and electronics during sunlight hours when you are producing power. This allows you to use the energy your array is producing, thus, purchasing less from the grid and lowering your power bill. As a micro-generator, any excess power you produce through your solar array is sold back to the grid. Your usage and production are monitored by your local wire service provider (WSP) via a bi-directional meter.
Who installs my bi-directional meter?
Your local wire service provider (WSP) will install your bi-directional meter free of charge. All micro-generation in Alberta is governed by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) in accordance with the guidelines outlined here