Like a popular Netflix series or the Stanley Cup post-1993, Google’s Project Sunroof has yet to make it to Canada.
The service, launched in 2015, uses the search engine’s robust maps system to determine a given home’s solar potential—including costs and potential savings from switching over to sun power.
The company has since released few details on if and when the service will be available north of the border. But it and other innovations has the potential to jumpstart Canada’s solar industry outside its Ontario hotbed.
According to the National Energy Board, nearly 98 per cent of Canada’s existing solar capacity is in Ontario. Overall, solar makes up a small fraction of Canada’s renewable power share, which accounts for around 19 per cent of the country’s primary electricity generation
In 2014, there were 1,843 megawatts of installed solar capacity in Canada, the rough equivalent of just one megadam.
The key will be lowering costs.
Much of that will come from the PV cells themselves. The price of PV panels, which convert sunshine into electricity, is expected to drop to $.36 per watt this year, a mere fraction of what solar cost a decade ago.
Tools like Sunroof and Mapdwell will be key for helping individual consumers make the shift. As will other cost-saving innovations, like the solar plant designers using drones to help better compete with fossil fuels.
Canada can wring more out of its sunshine. Indeed, it’s already being done in less solar-friendly locales. Despite being a notoriously difficult place to build, New York City has installed 100 megawatts of solar since last fall, and is now about ten per cent of the way toward the city’s goal of having a gigawatt of solar power online by 2030. Germany was satisfying half its electricity demand with solar way back in 2014.
Natural Resources Canada figures half of Canada’s residential electricity requirements could be met by installing solar panels on the roofs of homes and apartment buildings.
Solar is far from a silver bullet, of course. Despite generating more than 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources, Germany saw its carbon emissions tick upward in 2015, due to the need to backstop intermittent sources like solar and wind with non-renewables.
By Jonny Wakefield, 20 April 2017
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This article was written for Clean Capital News a free bi-weekly publication dedicated to producing topical articles on sustainability and clean technology that advance our understanding of issues like climate change and help generate solutions for a more sustainable future.
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