Installing a solar power system in Saskatchewan is one of the best ways to save money, reduce your carbon footprint and add equity to your home, business or farm. Federal tax incentives for businesses along with the ability to sell back excess energy to the grid make solar panels an incredible vehicle for generating income.
Solar power is good for your grandchildren,great for your bottom line.
This article will provide the complete guide to installing solar panels in Saskatchewan and will go over how solar panels work, how many solar panels you need, the cost of solar panels (including payback period and ROI), as well as frequently asked questions such as how solar panels work in the snow and winter.
Solar power systems work in cooperation with the local electricity grid, providing you with an endless supply of electricity without delay. How much sun is shining as well as how much electricity you are using determines where the electrons go.
During the day, if the sun is shining and you are using electricity, solar energy will first feed from your solar power system into your home, business or farm. If you need more energy than what the solar panels are producing, you will import the difference from your electricity provider. This process is done automatically without any manual switching required from you and no delays.
During the day, if the sun is shining and you are not using that much electricity, the solar energy will first feed your home, business or farm and the excess energy will be exported to the grid.
Being tied to the grid means that you don’t need batteries to store the excess energy. Rather than pay for a battery bank, you can sell your extra solar energy to your electricity retailer and get paid for it – essentially, the grid acts as your battery bank.
Your retailer will build a bank of credits for each kWh of energy your solar power system generates which can be applied to future power bills’ electricity charges.
You will be credited for your solar power system’s exported electricity at $0.075/kWh which is less than the rate you buy it for(approximately $0.12 - $0.14/kWh depending on your rate plan). When you use solar energy, you are saving $0.14/kWh,but when you sell it, you are getting $0.075/kWh.
To get the fastest return on investment, you will want to use the solar energy rather than export it. To help your investment, try and plan your electricity usage for when the solar panels are generating whenever possible (ex.do you laundry during the day or afternoon rather than at night).
At night or when your solar panels aren’t generating electricity (such as during the winter if they are covered in lots of snow),your home, business or farm will import electricity from the grid just like it does now.
If you have credits built up from selling solar energy to the grid, these can be applied against your imported electricity charges on your upcoming bill. The credits will roll over indefinitely but can only be applied to energy charges, not other taxes or fees.
With these factors in mind, it is important to install the right size solar power system for your farm, home or business.
Installing the correct number of solar panels will ensure you are not paying for more than you need (and giving away free electricity to your retailer) from an oversized system, and also make sure your energy needs are taken care of.
The size of an ideal solar electric system for your home, business or farm will depend on 3 main factors – what angle or tilt the solar panels sit at, what direction or azimuth the solar panels are facing, and how much electricity (kWh) you use over a 12-month period. A rough rule of thumb is that you will need 1,000W of solar power for every 1,100kWh of electricity you use.
Steeper tilts and ideal azimuths will produce more energy per panel than shallow tilts. The rough 1,100kWh/kW can easily fluctuate by+/- 15% depending on your property (more calculations and financials are shown below).
Solar panels tilted at an angle equal to or close to your latitude will generate the most electricity on an annual basis. Customizing the tilt is not recommended unless you are planning a ground mounted solar array for a farm, business or acreage with lots of space.
To install solar power systems on homes or businesses with standard sloped roofs (1:12 to 5:12), the racking and modules are mounted flush or parallel to the pitch of the roof. This method will produce approximately 5% to 10% less energy per solar panel than steeper tilts, but will result in more installed solar power at a lower rate($/W). More solar power is able to be installed as there is no shading from one row to the next.
Similarly, the solar power system can be installed at a better$/W as less racking, engineering and possibly permitting is required to mount solar arrays flush to the roof. Tilts steeper than 5:12 produce solar energy extremely efficiently with minimal losses relative to tilts equal to your latitude.
For businesses that have flat roofs, modules are placed on ballasted racking systems typically tilted South, fixed at 10 degrees. For flat roof commercial systems, solar panels are clamped to aluminum trays that are weighed down using concrete bricks. Weighing down the system with concrete eliminates the need for roof penetrations to secure the array to the structure.
Shallow tilts for flat roof systems allow more solar panels to be placed on the roof as a shorter ‘inter-row’ distance is required to account for shading from one row to the next. The trade off here is your commercial solar power system will produce less energy per panel, but far more panels can be installed giving you more energy overall.
What direction your property or solar array faces will impact its annual energy generation. Solar panels facing due south produce the most annual energy relative to any other direction. If your building faces East or West, that is completely fine and can still produce enough energy to cover 100% of your electricity needs.
Panels on North slopes are not recommended but can be used as a last resort if there are no other options.
This one may be self explanatory, the more electricity you use – the more solar panels you will need to cover your demand. Solar electric systems can easily be expanded over time if you want to cover a portion of your electricity this year and build the array out over several months/years.
Solar panel cost is typically provided in $/W format (“dollar per watt”). This is similar to$/sq. ft. in other industries and is used as a benchmark to compare values of different solar arrays.
In most cases, the lower the $/W, the more favourable the system is (an exception to this might be if one system produces far more energy per installed solar panel [kWh/kW] such as when comparing a ground mounted solar array tilted at 45 degrees facing due south versus an 8 degree tilted flat-roof mounted solar array facing East and West). If both arrays are facing the same tilt and direction, then the lower $/W is the more favourable system.
Like many contracting services, the cost of installing solar panels depends on your exact project and desires. Larger Saskatchewan solar power systems can be installed at a lower $/W, taking advantage of the economies of scale and leveraging the relatively fixed costs (such as engineering and permitting) over more installed solar capacity.
The chart below outlines the cost of solar power systems in Saskatchewan for homes, businesses, farms, communities, large commercial or small utility scale generating plants. Note the logarithmic scale on the bottom(X) axis.
The vertical lines on each orange data point represent approximate variations in expected costs for solar arrays. As each property is unique, different costs may be incurred.
For example, if your property requires an electrical panel upgrade or you would like your array to be 400m away from your electrical panel, additional fees may be required above the average cost. Inversely, if you contact Kuby Energy before or during the design stage of your home or property, we can provide you with tips and strategies to optimize your roof and electrical system for installing solar panels which will drive your $/W down.
To save you some mental math, the same chart is plotted below to show the full cost (dollar value) of a solar power system in Saskatchewan. Note that values on each axis increase logarithmically so the highest ranges of the chart don’t skew the data or make it unreadable.
The chart above, Cost of Solar Power Systems in Saskatchewan ($), outlines the installed cost for different ranges of solar power in SK. Typical residential solar power systems will fall in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. Typical commercial or farm solar power systems will fall in the $40,000 to $200,000 range; the large range is due to the vast differences in commercial and farming operations. Community, large commercial and small utility solar farms will fall in the $1Mn to $11Mn range; once again, the large range is due to the differences in potential capacity needs. If you would like to participate in the Small Power Producers Program, expect a 1MW solar farm in the $1.5Mn range +/- 20%.
Please keep in mind that every project is unique and will present its own set of unique challenges and costs – the best way to assess your solar power cost is to contact us directly.
Net Metering Program – This program allows one to sell back excess or unused solar electricity to your retailer for $0.075/kWh and bank the credits which will roll over month by month to be applied to future electricity charges.
Power Generation Partner Program – This program allows solar projects between 100kW and 1,000kW to be installed and directly connected to the SaskPower distribution grid and sell electricity at set rates into the future. The program accepts applicants once per year (or as determined by SaskPower’s needs). Applicants are accepted based upon their proximity to high-priority SaskPower distribution lines as well as proposed $/MWh.
Commercial Tax Incentive (Accelerated CCA) – The federal government allows an accelerated capital cost allowance for renewable energy generating systems installed for businesses under class 43.1 and 43.2 of the Income Tax Regulation. Through this program you can write off 100% of your asset in year 1 of purchase. Read more on this commercial solar power incentive.
Solar will save you tens of thousands of dollars and pay for itself over time. An approximation of what you can expect is shown below. To keep things simple, a number of assumptions and round figures were used.
A 40kW array installed on a Farmer’s shop will be installed for approximately $80,000. The farmer has a registered business (is eligible for CCA commercial solar power tax incentive) and pays an effective federal tax rate of 15%. Two cases are outlined, Case A (blue) and B(orange) assume energy rates will increase at 2.5%/yr and 5%/yr respectively. Values are based off electricity buy rate = $0.12658/kWh (farm rate), carbon tax = $0.005711/kWh and electricity sell rate = $0.075/kWh (Net metering program). The Farmer generates 100% of his annual electricity demand from solar power and exports ~20% of it to the grid when he does not use it internally.
The cost of doing nothing (decreasing) lines indicate how much money you will spend on electricity over the next 30 years if you don’t install solar panels (i.e. if you continue to rent electricity indefinitely).
Where the cashflow and cost of doing nothing lines intersect(“relative payback period”) is where you are at an equal point in negative cashflow whether you installed solar or not. Where the cashflow line crosses the x-axis is when your solar power investment has paid for itself from your energy savings.
The system is fully paid off in just over 10 years but will be cashflow positive relative to your existing strategy in under 6 years!
The cumulative savings over a 25+ year lifespan are hundreds of thousands of dollars. As the price of electricity increases over time, so will your savings.
Electricity rates have increased at approximately 3.5% per year for the last 10 years.
The payback period is highly correlated to the installed $/W. Smaller solar power systems will generally take longer to pay back than commercial or farm solar power systems.
Snow on solar panels seems like a much worse problem than it is – only 5% to 10% of energy is lost on an annual basis due to snow coverage. The key words there are ‘annual basis’.
The chart below shows how much energy is lost due to snow coverage over each of the months as indicated by the green error bars from November to March. Energy losses from snow covering solar panels is minimal because there is not nearly as much sunlight in the winter months and the sun is very low in the sky resulting in each solar panel seeing less sunlight.
Snow coverage is accounted for when sizing your home or business solar power system so you can still supply 100% of your electricity from the sun.
Hail damaging solar panels is a common fear for Canadians, but it is unfounded and not worth the stress. Solar panels are made to withstand hail and are performance tested using 1-3/8” ice ball shot at 84 kph. Another factor that greatly reduce the risk of hail damage is the low incident angle of the modules, which will deflect most hail storms rather than provide a direct impact surface.
In the worst-case scenario, if hail does damage a solar panel, they can be covered by your home insurance and replaced. If a hail storm damages one or a couple of your solar panels, you will likely have many other insurance claims and damages to remediate as well. In many instances,solar panels will protect your roof from hail damage.
Solar panels are performance warrantied for 25 years,meaning they are guaranteed to produce at 80% to 85% of their nameplate value in 25 years.
Inverters typically come standard with a 10 or 12 year warranty which can be extended to 20 or 25 years.
Kuby Energy offers a standard residential workmanship warranty of 5 years which can be extended to 20+ years.
Thank you very much for your interest in solar power systems for homes, businesses and farms. Please contact us if you have any questions that we didn’t answer or would like a free solar power quote.
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