Published on June 13th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor1
Solar Brokers Canada–Getting Paid for the Power You Produce
Earlier this month, MIT published a study that caught some attention from media sources across the Web. As part of the MIT Energy Initiative, the +300 page study, entitled The Future of Solar Energy, was intended to investigate the trends, both current and future, of global solar energy. Among the findings that sparked attention was its conclusion that solar panels in today’s market are in fact all that’s needed, technology-wise, to supply the world’s energy needs. The report complemented this claim by stating that the true barrier confronting broader use of solar energy is not technology, but rather the incestuous ties between politics and fossil fuel initiatives.
There’s a lot of information out there about solar energy and solar panel technology; indeed, the amount of information seems to be only growing. That may be good for media sources and information distribution networks. But, consumers and those truly interested in adopting solar technology in their personal lives can quickly find themselves in information-overload territory and find it difficult to parse facts from hyperbole.
The fact is that there is good news coming out of the solar energy industry. A lot of it. However, again, given the amount of information out there about solar energy and the constant stream of new information, some clarity is deserved.
Globally, an increasing number of countries are choosing to expand their solar energy use in a significant way, through increased infrastructure efforts and government feed-in tariff (FIT) programs.
Some statistics make the point clearer.
Last year, both Britain and Germany (a country already well-known for their investment in solar technology) broke record levels of solar electricity production in their respective countries. On June 9th last year, for the first time, Germany produced more than half of its national electricity needs from solar energy. Meanwhile, in 2014 Britain nearly doubled its solar energy capacity through increased commercial solar installations, not to mention roughly 510,000 domestic, small-scale solar installations.
Commenting on the growth of the solar energy industry in Britain, UK energy minister, Greg Barker, confidently pointed out that, “We think that this [solar energy production] is likely to double again within a year. There is nothing to stop it getting to 30-40% of UK electricity at this time of year [summer].”
Other countries besides Germany and Britain are increasingly turning to solar technology to meet their energy demands. Just this week, a story in The National detailed the growth in the industry in the United Arab Emirates, and more optimistically, explained the country’s increasing support of net-metering schemes that allow homeowners with solar photovoltaic (PV) system to connect to electricity grids and thereby increase their investment value in solar.
Meanwhile, in the United States solar energy use grew by 34 percent between 2013 and 2014. Even China, a country less well known for their green energy efforts, has begun to shun fossil fuels in favor of increasing its solar production capacity.
Why has there been so much global investment in solar technology and solar energy lately? For three simple, but crucial reasons.
- One, the cost of solar panels and, more broadly, solar energy production has plummeted over the past thirty years. In fact, prices of solar PV modules have fallen roughly 80% since 2008.
- Second, at the same time as the cost of solar energy production has dropped, solar energy technology has dramatically improved in efficiency, such that solar energy is now an actual viable alternative to traditional energy means, boasting nearly grid parity with fossil fuels in some countries. In 1953, solar panels were able to convert 4.5 per cent of available energy into electricity. Solar panels now have the ability to convert 23.5 per cent of energy into electricity, and new photovoltaic technology, such as silicon wafers, promise to further improve solar technology’s efficiency, while reducing cost.
- The last reason why more countries, not to mention more citizens, are turning to solar energy is for the simple reason that it represents our best hope for creating an environmentally sustainable future, one that allows us to depend on a plentiful, non-polluting source of energy, namely the sun.
As more countries have increased their investment initiatives in solar energy, so too more homeowners have chosen to make their own personal investment in the technology through home solar panel installation. The growth has been promoted in part by net metering and feed-in tariff (FIT) programs that provide homeowners even more financial incentive to invest in solar technology.
FIT programs have been particularly successful. These are programs that offer homeowners a cost-based price for the energy they produce from their solar panels. Three of the four largest solar markets (China, Japan and Germany) happen to use FIT programs to support and promote domestic solar energy production.
But, besides financial incentives offered through government FIT programs, there are other reasons why domestic solar production is rapidly growing and why more homeowners are choosing to install solar panels on their homes.
As mentioned, solar technology is cheaper, and the simple fact is, homeowners are finding it increasingly easier to afford to install panels on their homes. Aided by national programs that support solar energy, homeowners can now not only recoup the costs of installing their solar panels, but enjoy a profit and a reliable monthly income. In Ontario, Canada, a province that has operated a highly successful FIT program since 2009, homeowners who invest in solar panels enjoy a 14% return on investment, if not more, in their solar technology.
Joseph Barker, the managing partner for Ontario-based Solar Brokers Canada, a solar brokerage firm that guides clients in the process of installing solar panels on their homes, comments on the rise in solar panel installations among homeowners, “Over the past several years, we’ve seen a terrific growth in people who are interested in solar technology here in Canada. I think more people understand that with advancements in PV technology, solar panels are truly affordable now and durable. As solar technology continues to advance, I truly think the momentum we are seeing now will only grow.”
Referencing back to the information overload comment earlier in the article, many clients of Solar Brokers Canada come to the company out of confusion, not knowing where to start the process of getting panels installed on their homes or who to trust. Solar Brokers Canada occupies a growing a niche in the industry that helps clients navigate the solar industry and find trustworthy solar manufacturers and similar parties.
Three years ago, a pilot project in the Netherlands, called SolaRoad, embedded solar panels in a bike path outside of Amsterdam as a way to experiment with bringing solar panel technology to municipal infrastructures (a similar program is underway in the United States, called Solar Roadways). Protected by a centimeter-thick layer of glass, the panels in the SolaRoad project have not only proven to be durable, but have also produced more electricity than expected. It’s just another example showing that solar energy’s future is not just bright, but full of opportunity.
This post generously supported by Reputation.Ca.