British Columbia, long known as one of Canada’s greenest provinces, has been at the forefront of tackling environmental issues, such as climate change, plastic pollution, and dwindling biodiversity. The capital of British Columbia, Victoria, has one of the highest proportions of citizens that walk to work in Canada.
On the other hand, Vancouver garners a whopping 93% of its used electricity from sustainable, renewable sources.
Solar power, long touted by environmentalists as a clean, reliable, and efficient electricity source, seems to be a no brainer for British Columbians to adopt. So how strong is the solar energy market in British Columbia? Is it worth it for homeowners to make the switch to solar energy?
One of the key solar incentives for homeowners in British Columbia is an exemption from the provincial sales tax, which currently sits at 7%. This tax exemption can be applied for alternative power generation, including photovoltaic solar modules and energy conservation equipment.
Homeowners can also qualify for a rebate of $2000 when they convert their home heating systems into a heat pump.
Furthermore, the districts of Nanaimo and Lantzville also have local rebates for solar modules and solar thermal systems.
Unfortunately, assistance for homeowners wanting to embrace solar energy in British Columbia ends there. The federal government provides funding to the provinces to administer through the national low carbon economy fund.
British Columbia has invested the bulk of this funding in electric transit projects, making buildings more energy-efficient and developing a cleaner industrial sector. These investments, administered by the provincial “CleanBC” program, have undoubtedly made British Columbia a leader among Canada’s provinces in developing a clean economy. However, there is still a lack of direct consumer support.
The most common uses of solar energy in British Columbia are for monitoring stations, off-grid communities, and to power radio repeating stations. Most of the electricity demands of the province are met with clean hydroelectricity.
The abundance of hydroelectric power across the province makes it a very cheap source of energy, reducing potential savings homeowners could incur by switching to solar energy. Savings are further reduced when factoring in solar irradiation. British Columbia ranks 11th out of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories for its capabilities to produce solar energy, only beating out Yukon and Newfoundland.
According to National Resources Canada, the average solar system in British Columbia can produce roughly 1004 kWh of electricity per KW of panels annually.
This isn’t to say that solar energy isn’t viable in British Columbia. Solar installations have improved dramatically in recent years, both in longevity and efficiency. The average lifespan of mounted solar panels is 25 years; this is more than enough time for an investment in solar energy to be recouped.
The locations across the province exhibiting the highest proportion of solar irradiation include the Northeast and Southern Interior of the region. In addition, the Southeast coast and the lower mainland of Vancouver Island have excellent solar resources.
Solar energy may be more practical in certain parts of the province than others, but saving money on electricity bills, building energy independence, and contributing to community health are benefits that can be realized by any homeowner in British Columbia.