Renewable energy is exciting! At Effect Home Builders, we have a keen interest in solar energy and promote its inclusion for the homes we build. Because we believe in reducing overall environmental impact, using the sun to generate electricity vs burning fossil fuels makes sense in so many ways.
Here are some of the benefits homeowners can take advantage of by installing a solar array on their new or existing home:
According to the Canada Energy Regulator, about 91% of electricity in Alberta is produced from fossil fuels (43% from coal and 49% from natural gas). The remaining is produced from a combination of renewables (wind, hydro, and solar). The more electricity that we can be generating at the source of consumption, the more we can eliminate that “91%” from contributing to carbon emissions.
Costs of solar systems have come down so much in the past few years that it is now the cheapest way to generate electricity. According to the International Energy Agency (World Energy Outlook 2020), it’s cheaper to add solar capacity to electrical grids than building fossil-fueled generating stations. These cost reductions help not only industry, but also make Return on Investment a reality for homeowners.
Another bonus is that in Alberta, there is a program called the Solar Club Loyalty Program. This allows homeowners to sign on to a High Export Rate (currently $0.2585/kWh) for summer months when exporting more electricity to the grid than importing, and a Low Import Rate (currently $0.071/kWh) in the winter months when importing more electricity than exporting. This difference in rates allows for a much quicker Return on Investment!
For houses, solar panels generally make the most sense for producing electricity. A wind generator is the other option, but this doesn’t work well in dense urban areas. Also, solar systems are easy to expand. This means that a smaller array can be installed initially, with more added later as budgets permit. Access to the sun is also important, but remarkably, solar panels don’t have to be placed south-facing.
As this chart courtesy of Wil Beardmore, Bluewater Renewable Energy Solutions shows, you can still get electrical generation even when the panels face due East or West. There is some additional weight placed on the roof as well, but normally there’s enough extra weight allowance in the design to accommodate this load. When the permit is applied for, an engineer reviews the structure, and will certify its capacity.
The new Canadian Greener Homes Grant offers up to $5000 tax-free to offset the cost of installing a system on your home. Plus, for those living within Edmonton, the Change Homes for Climate- Solar Program that the City of Edmonton is currently offering will pay up to $4000 for new installations. Other municipalities may start offering similar incentives.
The alignment of these factors makes now a great time to consider adding solar to your home!