You can reduce your carbon footprint and make a wise investment with a small solar installation
By Michael Ganley | October 3, 2022
I’ve never been an evangelist, but I’m fast becoming one.
I just had a 7.2 kilowatt solar panel array put on my home. The 16 solar panels are expected to produce 7,059 kilowatt/hours of electricity per year, or about 106 per cent of our consumption. The total installed cost was $19,000, but after rebates from the federal government and the City of Edmonton, it will cost us about $11,000. (Note, the City rebate has ended)
For someone in our position – home-owner, sundrenched roof, fiscal space to make the investment – solar panels are now an environmental and financial no-brainer.
From the green point of view, these panels immediately reduce our green-house gas emissions since our electricity is otherwise provided by burning natural gas or coal. They will prevent about 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. In terms of the carbon emitted in their manufacture and installation, that budget will be evened up within three years.
From the other green point of view, the panels will pay for themselves within seven years by reducing our electricity bill and generating revenue. We’ll produce more electricity than we need in the summer and sell it into the grid under Alberta Solar Club premium pricing for as much as 25 cents per kilowatt hour. In the winter, when we buy from the grid, we’ll pay the going rate of around 10 cents per kilowatt hour. As an investment, solar panels provide a return of 10-15 per cent per year, far higher than the average stock, bond or mutual fund (and don’t even talk to me about crypto). In addition, the value of the solar panels goes right into the value of our house.
The panels are guaranteed for 25 years, but should produce long after that. They are solid-state physics – no moving parts – so maintenance will be minimal. A bit of snow and ice doesn’t affect performance much, and we don’t get much performance in winter anyways: We’ll produce more in March than in November, December and January combined.
We got our electrical panel upgraded to 200 amps, anticipating that we might want to expand the system in the future. Home solar is a plug-and-play system. We can add more panels, an EV charger and/or a battery in future. Our installer, Kuby Energy, provides an online monitoring system so we can check the production from the system in real time.
“The residential market has grown by leaps and bounds since we started in 2015,” says Jake Kubiski, principal at Kuby Energy. “Back then, it was a niche market. The clients were people who saw it as something other than a cost-saving mechanism. They were interested because of the environment or health benefits or because they were fascinated with the technology.” Now, he says, thanks in large part to government grants, the market has become more egalitarian. “We’re seeing all kinds of people doing solar for all kinds of reasons,” Kubiski says, “with the main one being cost savings. Energy is getting expensive and solar, with these rebates, has become quite affordable.”
According to Energy Hub, Alberta is the third-best province in the country in which to install solar panels, trailing only Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island (on criteria including amount of sunlight, available rebates and utility policies).
I believe it, and tomorrow, EPCOR will come to approve our install and flip the switch. And just like that we’ll reduce our carbon footprint, decentralize the grid and make a solid investment.
Praise the Lord!
9 Steps to Homegrown Green Energy
Get quotes from solar installers. The good ones will help walk you through the processes, paperwork and permitting.
Apply for NRCAN’s Greener Homes Grant, which provides $1.00/W up to $5,000.
NRCAN will refer you to an approved local company for an energy audit. You need the audit done before you can apply for a grant.
Your solar installer will talk you through the steps you need to take to get the permission of the “wire provider” (usually EPCOR), to tie into the grid.
Make any required upgrades to your electrical panel/system.
Get the panels installed and connected.
Get the energy auditors back to certify that you did the work.
File final paperwork and get your grant money.
Enjoy solar-provided electricity for decades to come.