Embracing the Power of Solar: A Sustainable Path Forward

The solar photovoltaics (PV) industry is experiencing a global boom, offering a promising solution to contemporary challenges such as climate change and universal electricity access. The success of PV plants hinges on their quality and performance, making them integral to a sustainable future.

Untapped Solar Potential and Global Energy Disparities

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), achieving universal electricity access is a prerequisite for any net-zero pathway. Astonishingly, nearly 700 million people worldwide lack access to electricity, with many lacking stable power for essential services like healthcare facilities. Paradoxically, the sun provides over 200,000 times the energy the world currently generates daily, with more than 80% of those without electricity residing in Sub-Saharan Africa—where sunlight is abundant.

Solar PV: A Catalyst for Change

Solar PV emerges as one of the most cost-effective ways to generate electricity globally. In 2022, solar PV generation witnessed a remarkable 26% annual growth, surpassing all other renewable energies. Projections indicate its continued ascent, set to exceed coal by 2027. This growth is a positive sign, especially considering the imperative to meet climate targets, reduce carbon emissions, and ensure electricity access for all.

The IEA asserts that by 2040, electricity generation must constitute almost half of total energy consumption to achieve net-zero targets by 2050. With electricity currently comprising only 20% of global energy consumption, solar PV stands as a transformative opportunity for the century.

Expert Insights into PV Industry Dynamics

Roger Taylor, a PV industry expert, underscores the significance of PV plant investment in quality products, design, and construction processes. He emphasizes the low operating costs of well-built PV plants, with sunlight being a free and abundant resource.

PV solar power plants are intricate systems comprising thousands of components. Taylor stresses that the safety and reliability of these plants depend on the complex interplay of various stages, including development, design, engineering, construction, operation, and maintenance, along with cybersecurity measures.

Standards: Ensuring Quality and Safety

IEC International Standards play a pivotal role in enabling solar PV installations to meet globally agreed requirements for quality, safety, and performance. With around 200 standards for PV components and additional standards for system design, quality management, and cybersecurity, the IEC ensures adherence to high-quality benchmarks.

Addressing End-of-Life Challenges

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) highlights a potential increase in landfill waste as the PV market grows. However, adherence to standards, especially those governing design and construction, can mitigate environmental impact. Industry experts stress the importance of certifying PV components to specified quality levels, preventing premature retirements and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Global Certification Programs: Ensuring Quality Assurance

IECEE’s PV certification program offers access to qualified testing laboratories, certifying PV components according to IEC International Standards. These certificates assure compliance with global quality and safety requirements, instilling confidence across the supply chain.

Wolfram Zeitz, Executive Secretary for IEC CA Systems IECRE and IECEE, emphasizes the critical nature of assessing both components and the entire PV plant. This approach ensures the correct implementation of standards, maintaining quality and safety throughout the value chain.

Unlocking Solar Potential in Africa

Recognizing the resource limitations in many countries, IECEE’s PV certification program facilitates mutual recognition of conformity assessment certificates. In Kenya, the national certification approval scheme operates based on IECEE test reports and certificates, streamlining the clearance process for imported goods.

Irene Njine, Assistant Manager-Quality Assurance at KEBS, attests to the benefits of this program, citing time savings and simplified market entry for products tested by IECEE-recognized labs. Such schemes can also support governments in implementing incentives for solar products, as seen in Senegal’s quality control scheme, which exempts certified solar products from VAT.

The Future of Solar PV: Sustainable Growth

As solar PV experiences exponential growth, it aligns with the IEA’s vision of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Declining module prices and increased policy demands fuel this growth. Standards and conformity assessment play a crucial role in ensuring sustainable development, longevity of PV plants, and the realization of solar energy’s full potential.

In conclusion, the future of solar power looks bright, promising a sustainable energy landscape and addressing global challenges. Standards, certification programs, and international collaboration are key drivers in ensuring that solar PV continues to shine as a beacon of renewable energy.

 

Credit Liked to: Embracing the power of solar | IEC e-tech

‘Go hard and go big’: How Australia got solar panels onto one in every three houses

For a brief period over several weekends this spring, the state of South Australia, which has a population of 1.8 million, did something no other place of similar size can claim: generate enough energy from solar panels on the roofs of houses to meet virtually all its electricity needs.

This is a new phenomenon, but it has been coming for a while – since solar photovoltaic cells started to be installed at a rapid pace across Australia in the early 2010s. Roughly one in three Australian households, more than 3.6m homes, now generate electricity domestically. In South Australia, the most advanced state for rooftop solar, the proportion is nearly 50%.

No other country comes close to installing small solar systems on a per capita basis. “It’s absolutely extraordinary by world standards,” said Dr Dylan McConnell, an energy systems analyst at the University of New South Wales. “We’re streets ahead.”

There was no overarching plan that made Australia the world leader in household solar PV. Analysts mostly agreed that it was a happy accident, the result of a range of uncoordinated policies across tiers of government. Many were subsidy schemes that were derided as too generous and gradually scaled back, but the most important – an easy-to-access, upfront national rebate available to everyone – endured. It has helped make panels cost-effective and easy to install.

Cost was a big consideration for the Jamiesons – Sean, Deb, and their 19-year-old daughter, Molly – when they installed a system on the four-bedroom house in a beachside suburb in South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, a decade ago. They upgraded to a larger 8kW system during a home renovation five years later, and have installed two batteries, the first subsidized as part of a state government scheme trialing household energy storage systems to help stabilize a power grid that increasingly runs on variable solar and wind power.

Sean Jamieson, a pilot with the airline Jetstar, said the setup had been “incredibly beneficial”, in part because his family uses a range of energy-hungry equipment, including a pool and hot tub. They first opted for solar after watching the price of grid electricity rise sharply, mainly due to the cost of rebuilding electricity transmission poles and wires. He said it has continued to make sense.

“I’m looking at paying it off [through savings on what annual power bills would otherwise have been] in three or four years, so it’s been a great investment,” he said of the household energy system. “Generally, solar is just a no-brainer in South Australia. We’ve got a lot of sunshine and the most expensive electricity in Australia, and in the beginning, it was heavily subsidized.”

Dr Gabrielle Kuiper, an independent energy and climate change strategist, noted Australia was not the first country out of the gate on rooftop solar – that was Germany, which introduced the first subsidy scheme, and “none of us would be here without them” – but said it was one of the first to capitalize on the German model. It began with a natural advantage: more sun than nearly any other wealthy country. Even the southern island state of Tasmania is at a latitude that would place it level with Spain and California if it were in the northern hemisphere.

Kuiper said Australia had succeeded at solar for reasons beyond geography. Incentives were a big part of it, but the technology’s rise was accelerated by ordinary people embracing it to have some control over their power bills and, in some cases, play a small part in tackling the climate crisis by reducing the country’s reliance on coal.

The subsidies initially included a national rebate of A$8,000 for a small 1kW array – more than the sticker price in parts of the country. It was complemented by state government feed-in tariff schemes that paid households for the energy they fed back into the power grid and, in some cases, for all the electricity they generated.

There was little planning in how the various incentives fit together and critics attacked it as an expensive and inefficient way to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But it kickstarted an industry of installers, sales people, trainers and inspectors, and quickly made solar a viable option for people beyond the country’s wealthiest suburbs.

Today, the feed-in-tariffs have been cut, but the national rebate scheme survives, with bipartisan support despite deep divisions over other responses to the climate crisis. Analysts and industry players have praised its elegant design. The rebate is processed by and paid to the installer. The buyer may not even know it exists. It is reduced by about 8% each year, a rate that roughly keeps pace with the continuing fall in the cost of having panels installed.

The fall in cost has been significant. The sums vary depending on geography, but the SolarQuotes comparison site suggests many Australians can get a 6kW solar system for about A$6,000 (£3,100). The panels are likely to have paid for themselves within five years.

The influx of solar has brought challenges, including how to manage the flood of near-free energy in the middle of the day that risks making inflexible coal generators unviable before the country is ready for them to be turned off. Some states have responded by curtailing how much can be accepted into the grid, but Kuiper says this can be addressed through increasingly creative management. Answers include improving incentives for household batteries and fostering a two-way energy exchange between the grid and a growing electric vehicle fleet.

Rooftops provided 11% of the country’s electricity over the past year, part of a 38% total renewable energy share. The Australian government has set a challenging national goal of 82% of all electricity coming from renewables by 2030.

Simon Holmes à Court, a longtime clean energy advocate and convener of the political fundraising body Climate 200, said it was clear rooftop solar was playing a bigger part in reaching that than many people expected. “Not long ago renewables skeptics laughed at rooftop solar’s ‘tiny’ contribution. These days there’s no question solar is playing a major role in pushing coal out of our grid,” he said.

Tristan Edis, an analyst with the consultants Green Energy Markets, said the lesson for those watching on was pretty simple: the generous early subsidies worked. “It really was this fortuitous accident that happened,” he said. “The message from it is pretty clear: go hard and go big, or don’t bother.”

Link Reference: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/nov/01/how-generous-subsidies-helped-australia-to-become-a-leader-in-solar-power

Households have continued to use state help that was first created more than a decade ago by Adam Morton

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Ensuring Uninterrupted Power: Navigating the Growing Risks of Grid Blackouts

In our increasingly connected world, the dependence on a reliable power supply is more critical than ever. However, with the rising frequency of extreme weather events, cyber threats, and an aging infrastructure, the possibility of a grid blackout looms large. Understanding the potential risks and having a solid plan in place, including backup power systems, is crucial for individuals and businesses alike.

The Growing Threat of Grid Blackouts

Several factors contribute to the heightened risk of grid blackouts:

  1. Extreme Weather Events: Climate change has led to more frequent and severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes, storms, and heatwaves. These events can damage power infrastructure, leading to widespread outages.
  2. Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities: As our reliance on digital technology grows, so does the threat of cyberattacks on power grids. A successful attack on a utility’s infrastructure could result in a widespread blackout.
  3. Aging Infrastructure: Many power grids around the world are aging and in need of significant upgrades. The strain on outdated systems increases the likelihood of failures and disruptions.

Given these challenges, it’s prudent to consider the possibility of a grid blackout and take proactive steps to ensure a continuous power supply.

Preparing for the Worst: Backup Power Systems

One of the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of a grid blackout is to invest in backup power systems. Here’s how you can be prepared:

  1. Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS): A UPS provides a short-term power source during brief outages, giving you enough time to save work and shut down electronic devices properly. It acts as a buffer, smoothing the transition to alternative power sources.
  2. Generators: Generators are a reliable option for extended power outages. They come in various sizes and can be powered by gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure their readiness when needed.
  3. Solar Power Systems: Solar panels coupled with energy storage solutions, such as batteries, offer a sustainable and independent power source. They can provide electricity during daylight hours and store excess energy for use during the night or on cloudy days.
  4. Wind Turbines: For those in areas with consistent wind, small-scale wind turbines can be an effective backup power source. Like solar power systems, they can be combined with energy storage for continuous power supply.

Creating a Comprehensive Plan

In addition to investing in backup power systems, it’s essential to develop a comprehensive emergency plan. This includes:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Ensure that backup power systems are regularly inspected and maintained to guarantee optimal performance when needed.
  2. Emergency Supplies: Stock up on essentials such as flashlights, batteries, candles, and non-perishable food items to sustain you during power outages.
  3. Communication Plan: Establish a communication plan with family members, neighbors, and colleagues to stay informed and coordinate assistance if needed.
  4. Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts, including utility providers, in a readily accessible location.

While we cannot eliminate the risk of grid blackouts entirely, being proactive and prepared can significantly reduce the impact on our daily lives. By investing in reliable backup power systems and having a well-thought-out emergency plan, we can navigate potential challenges with resilience and confidence.

In conclusion, ensuring uninterrupted power is a paramount concern in our ever-changing world. By understanding the risks associated with grid blackouts and proactively preparing with backup power systems, you can safeguard your home or business against the unexpected. For reliable backup power solutions and expert assistance, consider exploring the services offered by Power My Home at www.powermyhome.ca. Our commitment to providing effective and sustainable backup power options ensures that you can navigate power outages with confidence. Stay prepared, stay powered.

Click Here to Watch Documentary

Also, You can watch: How Long Would Society Last During a Total Grid Collapse?

 

🏡🌿 Attention Homeowners in Canada: Don’t Miss Out on the Greener Grant Home Opportunity! Act Now! 🇨🇦💚

The clock is ticking, and the opportunity to transform your home into an eco-friendly haven with the Greener Grant Home is slipping away. 🕒 As of now, a staggering 65% of the funds allocated for this incredible federal government initiative have already been snapped up. 🌟

🌞 Imagine lower energy bills, reduced carbon footprint, and increased comfort within your home. The Greener Grant Home can make this vision a reality.

💡 Here’s why you should seize this opportunity NOW:

🌱 Unparalleled Savings: With up to 65% of the funds already allocated, there’s no time to waste. The Greener Grant Home offers substantial financial incentives to make your home more energy-efficient, from insulation upgrades to efficient heating systems.

💚 Environmental Impact: Every energy-efficient upgrade you make through the Greener Grant Home reduces your carbon footprint and contributes to Canada’s commitment to sustainability and a greener future for generations to come.

🏠 Enhanced Home Value: Say goodbye to chilly winters and sweltering summers. With the Greener Grant Home, you can enjoy year-round comfort in your home, and the installation of solar panels ensures your home value goes up, contributing to a sustainable and financially sound future.

💰 Long-Term Savings: Lower energy bills are a given when you make your home more energy-efficient. These savings continue to add up over the years, making your investment in a greener home a wise financial decision.

🤝 Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to enhance your home’s energy efficiency while saving money and reducing your environmental impact. The clock is ticking, and funds are running out!

🚀 Act NOW and take the first step toward a Greener Home. Reach out to us for a FREE assessment or visit the official Greener Grant Home website to learn more and start your application process. Your future self and the planet will thank you! 🌎🌟

#GreenerHome #EnergyEfficiency #Sustainability #GreenLiving #Canada #FederalInitiative #ActNow #EnvironmentallyFriendly #HomeImprovement

Let’s make our homes greener and our planet brighter together! 🏡🌿💡

 

Click Here For Details (PDF File)

Introducing PMH Energy Inc.: The Evolution of Power My Home

Energy Economics Solar

Energy Economics Solar

We’re partnering with IEP Energy Economics Ltd., known as Energy Economics, to:

In the world of renewable energy, change is the only constant. Today, we are thrilled to announce a significant evolution in our journey as a company. Power My Home has transformed into PMH Energy Inc., marking a pivotal moment in our commitment to providing sustainable, clean energy solutions to homeowners across the nation.

As we embark on this exciting new chapter, we want to take a moment to reflect on our roots and share our vision for the future.

Our Journey as Power My Home

Power My Home was founded with a simple yet powerful mission: to empower homeowners with the ability to harness the sun’s energy and reduce their carbon footprint. Over the years, we have had the privilege of helping hundreds of families make the switch to solar energy, leading to energy independence, lower utility bills, and a cleaner environment.

Our dedication to excellence, innovation, and customer satisfaction has driven our growth and success. We have strived to stay at the forefront of technological advancements in the solar industry, offering state-of-the-art solar panels and energy storage solutions to our valued customers.

Why PMH Energy Inc.?

The decision to rebrand as PMH Energy Inc. reflects our broader vision for the future. While “Power My Home” has served us well, we wanted a name that better encompasses our expanding range of services and our commitment to powering not only homes but also communities, businesses, and industries with clean, sustainable energy.

The “PMH” in PMH Energy Inc. still holds a special place in our hearts as a nod to our humble beginnings. However, it now stands for “Powering More Homes” and represents our broader commitment to addressing the energy needs of a changing world.

Our Continued Commitment

Our mission remains unchanged. PMH Energy Inc. is dedicated to:

Empowering You: We are here to empower you, the homeowner, with the tools and knowledge you need to take control of your energy future.
Innovating for Sustainability: We will continue to push the boundaries of solar technology and energy storage to provide you with the most efficient and eco-friendly solutions.
Fostering Community: We believe in the power of community and will work to create opportunities for shared energy solutions that benefit all.

Projects by Energy Economics

As part of our exciting partnership with Energy Economics, we are proud to highlight some of their noteworthy projects. You can explore their diverse portfolio and see the impact of their work in advancing renewable energy solutions by visiting [Energy Economics Projects]

What to Expect

With our new identity as PMH Energy Inc., you can expect the same level of professionalism, expertise, and dedication that you’ve come to know from Power My Home. Our website, contact information, and team members all remain the same, ensuring a seamless transition for our valued customers.

We are excited about this new chapter in our company’s history and the opportunity to serve you better. Thank you for being a part of our journey, and we look forward to a future filled with cleaner, greener energy together.

Stay tuned for more updates and exciting developments as PMH Energy Inc. continues to lead the way in sustainable energy solutions in BC.

We Support GivePower, Would you like to do the same?

 

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As we reflect on 2022, we’re proud of this achievement, but know there is much work to do to address the global water crisis. Our continued focus is critical in bringing clean energy and water to the billions of people who need it most.

Our GivePartners and the gracious support of thousands of other donors, big and small, make our work possible. In 2022, we grew our project deployments by 170%, building 45 new solar projects around the globe including 5 new Solar Water Farms in Kenya. Our 10 SWF’s now supply clean water for up to 200,000 people every day. We also completed 9 Solar Impact Projects in Colombia, Nepal, the DRC, Mexico, Botswana and Haiti. And on top of that, 293 volunteers were escorted on 31 life-changing treks to build projects in Colombia, Nepal and the Philippines.

Mwingi – Solar Water Farm Mobi+

Mwingi is a small town about 120 miles east of the capital city, Nirobi. A prolonged drought has made water access a nightmare, forcing residents to trek many kilometers in order to get clean, drinkable water. With the deployment of our new Mobi+, we’ll now provide up to 15,000 liters of clean water a day for this worthy community.

Mtongwe – Solar Water Farm Max

Mtongwe is an underprivileged coastal community in the Mombasa area. Though Mombasa is the country’s second largest city and home to one of Kenya’s two naval bases, many Mtongwe residents lack access to reliable power and fresh water. Situated a few kilometers away from our Likoni Max, the GivePower site teams will work together to maximize distribution in the area providing access to clean drinking water for up to 70,000 people a day.

Thank you to Titan Solar Power for fully funding the Mtongwe Max.

GivePower’s Solar Water Farm Max in Haiti Provided 240,000 Liters Of Clean Water to Those Suffering From a Deadly Cholera Outbreak

In the wake of paralyzing fuel shortages severely inhibiting the transport of clean water in Haiti, a deadly cholera outbreak was identified in October. Clean water was needed urgently on the mainland to contain the disease. Our existing Max on the island of La Gonave was uniquely positioned to help. GivePower received invaluable support from Amazon, which donated 20,000 reusable water bags, The United Nations Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS), which transported the bags, and Health Through Walls, which facilitated deliveries of water to over 12,000 of those most vulnerable to the disease. Over 240,000 liters of clean water were distributed over a 6-week period.

Thank you to Lyndon & Maddie Rive and Endless Network for their generous support of this life-saving effort.

Solar-Powered Recycling Center in Juanchaco, Colombia

EcoPazifico, a local non-profit that promotes recycling efforts in Colombia, has been working with the village of Juanchaco to develop a trash for cash program to help clean up the environment, improve livelihoods, and turn waste into a resource. In November, we were able to complete construction of a community-run, solar-powered recycling center and provided recycling machinery as well as a solar microgrid impacting over 1,400 people so far.

Thank you to Enfragen, MUFG Union Bank Foundation and the Glenfarne Group for making this project possible.

Solarizing Rural Boat Travel in Miramar, Colombia

In Miramar, families spend up to 60% of their income on fuel costs to get their children to school. In partnership with the Universidad de los Andes, GivePower provided solar power for school boat travel and sustainable transportation solutions for local fishermen. This significantly reduced the community’s reliance on diesel and in turn provided access to education without financial sacrifice. The project provided new boats with Torqeedo engines and solar-powered charging stations. Over 400 people’s lives were changed.

Thank you to Enfragen and the Glenfarne Group for making this project possible.

We are grateful for your support and partnership in making a positive impact in the lives of those who need our help the most. Our founding GivePartner, GoodLeap, funds 100% of our administrative costs. That means every additional dollar you give goes directly to a project in the field. With your donation to GivePower, together, we can continue to provide clean energy solutions around the world.


Donate here.

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What are Deep Cycle Batteries?

Deep cycle batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that are designed to be discharged and recharged multiple times. They are commonly used in a variety of applications, including solar power systems, wind power systems, and electric vehicles.

Deep cycle batteries are different from starting batteries (also called SLI batteries), which are designed to deliver a high current for a short period of time, like starting an engine. Deep cycle batteries, on the other hand, are designed to deliver a lower current over a longer period of time, making them ideal for applications where the battery is regularly discharged and recharged.

The most common types of deep cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries, which are widely used in a variety of applications. They are relatively inexpensive, durable, and easy to maintain, however they have a lower energy density compared to other types of batteries, and they are not as efficient in high-temperature environments. Another type of deep cycle batteries are Lithium-ion batteries, which have a higher energy density and they are more efficient in high-temperature environments, but they are more expensive and have a shorter lifespan than lead-acid batteries.

Battleborn direct replacement battery 50Ah 24v LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Batt – Volts energies

When it comes to deep cycle batteries, it’s important to choose the right type of battery for your specific application. Factors to consider include the depth of discharge (the amount of the battery’s capacity that will be used before recharging), the number of cycles the battery is expected to undergo, and the environment in which the battery will be used.

It’s also important to properly maintain deep cycle batteries, by keeping them clean, fully charged and at the right temperature. This will ensure that they last as long as possible and perform at their best.

In conclusion, deep cycle batteries are a type of rechargeable battery that are designed to be discharged and recharged multiple times. They are commonly used in solar power systems, wind power systems, and electric vehicles. The most common types of deep cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. It’s important to choose the right type of battery for your specific application and properly maintain the batteries to ensure they last as long as possible.

What’s “Off-Grid Living”?

Off-grid living refers to the practice of living independently from the traditional power grid by generating one’s own electricity, water, and other necessities. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, such as solar power, wind power, hydropower, and even alternative energy solutions like biomass or geothermal.

One of the main benefits of off-grid living is the ability to be self-sufficient and not rely on the power grid or other public utilities. This can be especially appealing for those who live in remote or rural areas where access to the power grid is limited. Additionally, off-grid living can also be a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly lifestyle choice, as it reduces the dependence on fossil fuels and reduces the carbon footprint.

Off-Grid Solar System - Off-Grid Solar Kit | Unbound Solar

However, off-grid living also has its challenges. It can be costly to set up and maintain an off-grid system, and it requires a significant level of knowledge and expertise to install and maintain the system. Additionally, off-grid living often means living with limited resources and without the luxury of modern conveniences such as air conditioning, dishwashers, or other high-energy-consuming appliances.

In order to successfully live off-grid, it’s important to carefully plan and design the system. It’s also important to be aware of local regulations, as there may be legal restrictions or permit requirements for installing off-grid systems.

In conclusion, off-grid living is the practice of living independently from the traditional power grid by generating one’s own electricity, water, and other necessities. This can be achieved through a variety of methods such as solar power, wind power, hydropower, and alternative energy solutions. Living off-grid offers the benefits of self-sufficiency and sustainability but also comes with its own set of challenges like cost, maintenance, and limited resources. It is important to plan and design the system accordingly and be aware of local regulations.

A green machine: New Brunswicker uses solar to power his electric pickup truck

‘There’s probably going to be a huge demand in the future’

A red Ford truck parked next to an angled collection of solar panels. There are orange trees in the background.

 

A future landscape for many might include an electric vehicle powered by a solar grid that can run electricity for a home when the power goes out.

But it’s not that futuristic for one New Brunswick man. In fact, it’s his reality.

Cory Allen, who lives in Nasonworth, N.B., switched to electric vehicles in 2019, beginning with an SUV.

He said he still had a gas car in the garage at the time because, like many people, he was skeptical.

More recently, he got an electric pickup truck, the Ford F-150 Lightning. He said it has some “really cool” features, including being able to “back feed” electricity into the house.

In the event of a power outage, Allen’s automatic standby generator would kick in, which he said would cost around $6 or $7 per hour to run.

But then he could go to the garage and flick a transfer switch that would allow the truck to power the house. He said the truck can power the house for around two days before needing a charge.

A man wearing a navy blue collared shirt standing in front of a mountain landscape

Not only that but the truck is charged using solar energy.

Allen had a 12.8-kilowatt array of solar panels installed that feed into the garage where vehicles are charged. He said the truck takes around eight hours to go from zero power to a full charge.

He said he went with a grid-tied solar system for his home, which is different than a standard setup, so there’s no battery component.

He said when the vehicles are charging, they will take all of the solar energy that’s being produced. But when they are not actively using all of the solar energy, the meter will run backward and the power will be banked for when they need it, Allen said.

His panels are on a wooden frame in the field by his house. That was more cost-effective than putting them on the roof of his home since the field has a better southern exposure, which means increased sunlight.

Not a lot of public knowledge

The idea for the setup originally came from Epic Energy, a New Brunswick solar energy company, when Allen approached them about a solar array.

“The electrician came over and we began talking and … he just offered so many of these awesome ideas,” said Allen.

Richard Knappe, president of Epic Energy, said there isn’t a lot of public knowledge about using solar to power electric vehicles, but they have had conversations with interested clients.

He said there also aren’t many vehicles that have the necessary technology.

“There’s probably going to be a huge demand in the future,” said Knappe. “But right now, we’re pretty limited to the F-150 Ford, and the Hyundai IONIQ 5.”

When it comes to setting up these types of systems, the wiring does get pretty complicated, he said. Knappe has an electrician who does this work, but he said it is hard to find electricians with that particular knowledge.

Long-term financial benefit

Allen said having an electric vehicle is also a long-term financial benefit for him.

He said the truck is expensive upfront at roughly $100,000. Then there is around $11,000 for the solar array and about $7,000 for the electrical work.

But the cost makes sense in the long run, Allen said.

He said as a small business owner who travels a lot, he was spending a lot on gas to fuel a pickup truck.

But without having to buy gas, he said his monthly payments come out to less since he’s only making payments on the truck.

Allen said one of the things that makes him feel good about his setup is the carbon footprint.

He said there is a heavy carbon footprint at the outset for the production of electric vehicles and solar panels. But, after using them for around five years, he said his household could be net zero.

He said environmental concerns are always something he tries to keep on top of his mind.

“I often joked, ‘Well, at least I’m offsetting the gas I put through the truck with the car,'” said Allen. “But now we have the electric car and the truck, so I don’t even have to worry about that joke anymore.”

Alberta is in a solar power gold rush — and there are lessons for the rest of Canada

People congregate in front of a solar power array in Alberta on a sunny day.

Growing up near Fort McMurray, Alta., Randall Benson started working in the oilsands like many of his family members. However, in the mid-1990s, the long hours and ecological impacts of the industry had him rethinking his occupation.

“I just found it counterintuitive to how I was raised to respect our environment, and so I made a decision to find something that was kind of the opposite,” said Benson, now 52.

The “opposite” turned out to be solar energy, which he learned about while flipping through a magazine after moving to Edmonton.

About 25 years later, Benson is pleased to see utility-scale solar projects booming — a welcome addition to the residential and community solar installations his company, Gridworks Energy, builds. Benson is working on a project commissioned by the Métis Nation of Alberta, of which he is a member, designed to generate enough power for 1,200 homes.

It’s part of a renewable energy boom in a province world-famous for its oil reserves.

There’s “almost gold rush-level activity for solar” in Alberta, said Sara Hastings-Simon, assistant professor at the University of Calgary and an expert in energy and climate policy. “The majority of solar that we have in the system in Alberta today was installed in 2021-2022. So this is a really very recent phenomenon.”

According to research by Hastings-Simon and colleagues, in 2021, renewables — solar, wind, and hydro combined — accounted for 14.3 percent of electricity on the Alberta grid, compared to less than three per cent in 2002. She expects that number to increase in 2022.

Hastings-Simon said multiple factors helped create the conditions for this growth in solar power.

Alberta and Ontario are the only Canadian provinces with deregulated wholesale energy markets. While a government with a regulated electricity market could decide to build renewables, Hastings-Simon said that a deregulated system allows for these projects to move forward because of open competition among energy suppliers and an easy route for companies to purchase renewable power directly.

The Alberta Electric System Operator is a not-for-profit organization that purchases power from an open market; the price of electricity changes hourly, set by supply and demand, Hastings-Simon said.

According to Natural Resources Canada, Alberta — in particular the south of the province — has great potential for solar power generation. Despite the vast resource and an open market, solar development was stuck in a bit of a “chicken-and-egg” situation, without anything to kick-start projects, said Hastings-Simon.

When NDP Leader Rachel Notley was premier, the province started a renewable electricity program, and while only wind projects were selected, it sent a message to corporate buyers that a renewable energy market was starting to take off in the province.

In 2018, the province put out a request for solar projects to power Alberta government facilities. This “helped to break that chicken-and-egg cycle,” said Hastings-Simon. The provincial government’s renewable energy procurement in turn sparked an “uptick in the interest of so-called non-utility procurement.”

In other words, instead of buying electricity from their utility, more companies and organizations are opting to work directly with renewable energy developers to secure electricity at a guaranteed price. This also works out well for renewable energy developers, who have to contend with variable rates when they sell power to the province.

For some companies, there was another incentive: under the federal carbon tax, solar can be used as an offset in order to comply with the cost of carbon pollution.

With the price of solar energy itself dropping, the effect was “the perfect storm” for a boom in solar development, said Hastings-Simon.

Much of the growth is happening in southern Alberta. That includes Canada’s largest solar farm to date, the Travers Solar Project in Vulcan County, which signed an agreement to sell electricity directly to Amazon.

The burst of solar activity has been welcome financially for Vulcan County. In recent years, some fossil fuel companies have walked away from properties, leaving outstanding tax bills unpaid, resulting in the county cutting its budget by 30 percent, said the county’s reeve, Jason Schneider.

According to Schneider, tax from renewable energy projects makes up 45 percent of the county’s revenue: about 25 percent of which is solar and 20 percent wind.

“It subsidizes everything,” he said. “It’s paying for libraries, it’s paying for roads, it’s paying for bridges.”

Hastings-Simon said the next hurdle the province may face will be keeping up with the capacity for solar projects to connect to the grid.

She points to Texas as an example of how to proceed. With lots of solar potentials, the state decided to “build transmission lines on the assumption that if we build it, developers will come and build renewable projects when they have that opportunity to interconnect [to the grid].”

When it comes to where public money can best be put to use to keep solar’s momentum going, she said transmission lines are “the biggest bang for the buck.”

 

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