Solar Energy Progress in Canada
In terms of energy production using various renewable resources, Canada is considered one of the leading countries worldwide. Considering its geographical diversity and vast landform, it is also abundant in natural resources, which Canadians are using to produce hydroelectricity, bioenergy, geothermal, ocean and solar energy. The total percentage of Canada’s energy supply coming from all these renewable resources is about 18.9%.
With all these renewable resources, solar power is the least source contributor yet rapidly growing source of electricity in Canada. Utilization of Solar energy in Canada has been started since the 1970s when the federal government and the renewable sources industry encouraged the communities to start developing solar technologies and methods to generate electricity. It started with the use of a simple hybrid system where you can use solar power during daylight or sometimes just when the sunlight is available. This can only provide 24 hours of electricity a day with the aid of other energy sources.
Then the solar thermal technology system also becomes apparent in Canada. They used this for both water and space heating including crops drying. There were more than 300 industrial solar water systems and 12,000 residential solar water heating system in Canada, in 2001. Although, this only contributes a small percentage of Canada’s energy supply. However, studies propose that this will increase in 2025.
While in 2002, Automation Tooling Systems Inc. (ATS) in Canada introduced the technology-based Spheral Solar method, which produces solar cells to generate electricity. It is made up of tiny silicon beads joined by two sheets of aluminum foil. With its materials, it has been said that this cost cheaper than other solar technology/device.
In the year 2013, Canada made it to the rank 15 worldwide as it managed to install photovoltaics (PV) with a peak of 1210 megawatt (MWp) and eventually jumped from rank 15 to rank 10, still worldwide for the additional 600 MW PV capacity for its annual Photovoltaics installations, in the year 2015. In the same year, Canada also made a solar capacity over 2100 MW by VP installation. Although, this only represents 0.5 percent of solar contributions in Canada’s national electricity generation.
Last 2018, the installed capacity of solar power has grown into 3,040 megawatts from 16.7 megawatts in 2005. While as of now, Canada’s solar energy resources is rapidly but continuously developing, most particularly in Southern Canada where the majority of the energy sources and farms are located–southern Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Installation in Canada
Solar energy came from the radiated heat of the sun. Its lighting and heat can be converted to electricity. But this energy is cannot be considered as a reliable power source all the time, for its availability depends on the weather conditions, also for the reason that it is not available during the night time.
This solar energy is being harnessed using different solar technology methods. The most commonly used methods are solar collector panels and solar photovoltaic technology.
Solar collector panel is a device used to collect solar radiation by absorbing the sunlight. It may also refer to a power installation generator. Whereas, Photovoltaic (PV) helps in converting sunlight into electricity, using its array of cells. It can be made up of thin films of metal and silicon or crystalline silicon wafers. Photovoltaic system is solely depending on the amount of sunlight and this sunlight is being received by its panels.
Given the fact that Canada is composed of a diverse community and some regions are hard to reach still, the utilization of Photovoltaic become widely known in Canada, mostly in remote places because of the rapidly growing number of companies and businesses that offer PV panels and other solar lighting systems in the market. This made a huge impact on the power of electricity generation in the whole country.
PV panels are being installed at household and commercial buildings’ rooftop. Typically, in household rooftops, the PV capacity is only less than 10 KW, whereas when it’s for utility farms it could reach up to hundreds of megawatts.
Aside from Southern Canada, the Northern communities are also depending on PV cells to generate electricity instead of using the high-cost diesel fuel as their main source of electricity.
The rapid growth in the deployment of photovoltaics in recent years indicates that the technology is quickly gaining ground in Canada.
In time, solar photovoltaics (PV) grows rapidly, from only 10 MW in the year 2002 to 765 MW in 2012. This progress substantially grew and started with the Solar PV capacity of 62 MW in 2009, 186 MW in 2010, 216 MW in 2011 and continuously growing up to 268 MW in 2012. This rapid growth in photovoltaics installation in the past and recent years explains well that Canada’s solar industry will become more successful and prominent in the next coming years.
Photovoltaic (PV) technology became the most favorable renewable solar energy method due to its several socio-economic and environmental factors. With its power to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) and lessen the cost of electricity.
Thus, Canada is doing a lot of actions toward these photovoltaic energy methods. Making principal mandate to accelerate the growth of the solar power industry, deploying more PV technologies and to increase the solar energy’s potential across all regions in Canada and beyond other nations.
Based on the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference, the massive solar energy growth came from the vast number of solar power installations in Ontario. Around 98 percent of PV capacity is located in Ontario.
Ontario had established a Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009 program wherein their principal goal is to promote renewable energy resources and implement solar industry plans and development to produce a larger scale of photovoltaic farms. It also includes the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program that provides the largest amount of incentives for solar energy in Canada.
One of the solar farms in Ontario is located in Sarnia, there is a 97-megawatt Photovoltaic power plant which is considered as the world’s largest solar farm in October 2010. This power plant can be used by more than 12,000 residential homes. While there are other power plant farms in Canada, known as the Arnprior Solar Generating Station with 23.4 MW and the solar farm in Sault Ste. Marie with 68 MW solar capacity.
In 2015, Ontario’s PV capacity gets bigger for about 5 percent, and this is somewhat expected to happen followed by the increasing solar farms in the said region. It was also stated that the Solar penetration in Ontario might be changed or improved depending on the overall performance for the next coming years.
As solar energy keeps on arising and solar plants continue in developing in the province of Ontario, expect to have a bigger scale of solar farms, too. It has been said that this Solar growth and development in Ontario can affect the overall cost and maintenance of infrastructure and building in place. There is already a 50 percent drop in the power generation cost because of solar energy usage, in the past decades. And this will increase more for the next coming years as adding and building of solar energy plants all over the country continues.
Canada's Solar Energy Potential
Canada’s potential in the solar electricity market is getting bigger and apparent over the years. As the solar sector industry grows with its well-made policies and systems the more it will become more sustainable.
Canada’s solar energy potential varies in different provinces and regions. Almost half of the residentials in Canada installed solar panels on the roofs of their residential buildings. But it was said that solar energy potential is higher in the central provinces or regions than those near the coastal areas.
Generally, solar energy potential in Canada has increased in recent years. Most of the solar capacity in Canada is located in Ontario. In 2004, the growth of solar PV power capacity attain 13.8 percent with 1,843 MW. It was reported that the year 2008 to 2014 are the periods where there is significant growth in Canada’s solar photovoltaic power system. Whereas, solar power generation in 2016 got almost 30 times that solar power generation in the year 2010. Based on the current Canadian economic studies solar power generation in the country is expected to get bigger from 2016 solar capacity of 3.6 TW.h to 13.0 TW.h by the year 2040.
As solar energy continues to expand across Canada, investment in solar energy will also increase, it will generate investment by both local and global business firms including home developers, landowners, and commercial building owners. Moreover, it can also create new job opportunities for citizens.
With all these facts, the National Energy Board of Canada expects that the solar power generation will increase up to 1.2%, contributing to the country’s electricity supply by the year 2040.
Switching to solar energy from other renewable energy sources in Canada might be rapid but with different solar programs and solar energy infrastructure, this might be more prominent in the next coming decades.
The Future of Canada's Solar Power
Over the decades, solar energy incentives continue its duty to make solar power energy more viable, in Canada. The National Energy Board stated that only Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island are the regions where solar energy can be attained without the use of any incentives. This highly indicates that giving incentives make solar energy power more economical and sustainable throughout Canada.
There are major findings in Canada’s Solar power as of 2019
- Alberta is the best province in all regions of Canada in terms of the solar power system. This is due to the high level of sunlight and energy needs in the area, low solar installation costs, fast and high access to installers and more importantly the abundance of solar incentives programs in the region.
- Manitoba as the third province in Canada that has a high level of sunlight is still one of the lowest-ranked provinces nationwide due to poor ney billing program.
- Out of the top eight scoring provinces in Canada, there are seven that have major solar incentive programs to offer.
- The worst province in the country in terms of solar power development is in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Future of Solar Power in Canada
Solar energy will play a crucial role in Canada’s electric supply for it will be the mainstream source of electricity throughout the nation. The solar power electricity will be more sustained with the proper and stable regulatory regime and policy. This is to be done to expose the true essence and value of solar energy, both local and international.
The solar electricity industry is also growing rapidly in Canada with much help of the solar markets success in Ontario. The region generates almost 99 percent of solar electricity for the country and with the huge number of solar installations in Ontario, it made it to the top 20 solar electricity markets worldwide.
Additionally, solar electricity is considered as one of the smart choices to empower Canada’s future. Also, Canadians’ interest to become consumers and producers of solar electricity increases which also contributes to the dynamic growth of the solar industry in Canada. Currently, the government of Canada is investing more in renewable energy to encourage the local economies to help the rural and remote areas in Canada to reduce the dependence on diesel fuels. Aside from that, it can also make Canada’s solar power industry more sustainable and prominent in more coming years and generations.
Given all these facts, sustaining renewable resources particularly solar energy can be achieved by simply educating the Canadian citizens about the real abundant benefits of solar energy and the costs of solar electricity. By empowering them to do some actions to support and finally adopt solar energy’s power, the greater the solar energy system would be known, and new solar innovation might be invented to empower Canada’s solar industry.
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