Solar Powering Saskatchewan

A generous SaskPower rebate encourages Saskatchewan businesses and residences to switch to renewable energy sources. The one-time payment is worth 20 per cent of equipment and installation costs, up to a maximum of $20,000. Any residence, farm or business with the ability to generate up to a 100-kilowatt capacity are eligible for the rebate. Along with solar, the rebate also applies to wind, biogas and biomass, flare gas, heat recovery and low-impact hydro technologies.

The rebate expires Nov. 30, 2018 and is valid for anyone installing a system under SaskPower’s Net Metering Program. The program is available to all SaskPower clients, along with Saskatoon and Swift Current Light & Power customers.1 SaskPower will credit excess power at the same rate as you purchase power. Any unused power is banked as a credit in your SaskPower account for up to one year. Each March, the credits are reset to zero, which means you can never make money from the program, but you can eliminate your power bill.

Investing in solar power in Saskatchewan makes economic, as well as environmental sense. According to Solar Panel Power, Saskatchewan is Canada’s third best province for solar energy thanks to the rebate, high electricity costs here, and sunshine hours. (Saskatchewan receives the most sunlight hours in the country). To date, about 400 residences in major cities have installed solar power systems, while another 400 rural properties have also joined the solar grid in the province.

An average solar system in Saskatoon would produce 6,742 kWh of power, while a system further south in Regina would produce roughly 6,797 kWh. Saskatchewan’s goal is to produce 50 per cent of its electricity via renewable resources by the year 2030. By comparison, Alberta has set a 30 per cent goal by 2030, while Manitoba leads the country: 99.6 per cent of the province’s power comes from renewable sources.2 Alberta is getting on board, though. Outside the city of Brooks, Alberta, a site houses 50,000 solar panels that will power 3,000 homes. The solar project launched in December and is the first utility scale solar facility in Western Canada.

The amount of electricity a solar panel produces depends on the size of the panel, the efficiency of the solar cells inside and the amount of sunlight on the panel. Solar efficiency correlates to the amount of available energy from the sun that gets converted into electricity. In the 1950s, the first solar cells converted six per cent of the sun’s energy. Today’s solar panels are closer to a 20 per cent efficiency rate.3

And if you’re worried about solar panels’ performance in the snow, don’t be. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) has researched snowfall’s effects on solar panels for several years.  NAIT has six pairs of solar modules on its rooftop in Edmonton. Each pair of modules is placed at a different pitch ranging from 14° to 90°. NAIT researchers have found that clearing solar modules offers a gain of .85 to 5.31 per cent more energy, depending on the module’s tilt angle.4 “In general, individuals with on-grid systems do not clear their modules throughout the winter. Off-grid systems owners generally do clear the snow regularly, but it is a judgement that solar system owners have to make for themselves,” states NAIT on its website.

If you’re interested in powering your home or business through solar, there’s a range of Saskatchewan-based companies offering services.



2 https://www.gov.mb.ca/jec/energy/cleanenergy.html