Calgary’s Solar Potential Map
Wow 2016 was a busy year for the solar industry. I will try and sum up the biggest news stories. Let’s first start with North America and tackle its worldwide presence afterward.
Bloomberg reported that 1 out of 50 new American jobs created last year was the direct result of the solar industry, which now employs more than 260,000 workers. Total US installed photovoltaic (PV) power for the year came in at 12.4 gigawatts!!! To put that into perspective that’s the equivalent of 12 nuclear reactors!
Elon Musk made a big splash in the news again at the end of last year with the unveiling of his solar house. We in the solar industry found this very interesting. His vision of the future of solar, is re-inventing the tar shingle into a solar shingle. It’s a fascinating concept, but I for one won’t be waiting for this new technology. How many shingles do you need to cover a house? That’s one too many points of failure for this installer to be comfortable with! The point of connection for panels was standardized across the industry a decade ago. To give an example I’ll compare it to everyday appliances. The plug and receptacle we know today became the standard once manufacturers agreed on a common type, which is now standard across North America
India made a splash last year when it completed work on Kamuthi Solar Power Project. At 648 MW it is the 2nd largest solar park in the world. These types of investments will help create much-needed power in India, while not contributing to its famous poor air quality.
Reuters reported that the cost of PV solar systems has tumbled an astonishing 27 per cent last year alone! Solar is now priced so competitively in some countries that it is winning open bid electricity contracts over other forms of power. In Chile, a solar project won a competing bid and came in at half the price of the competing coal plant.
Closer to home the Alberta government announced the Alberta Municipal Solar Program and the On-Farm Solar PV Program in 2016. The initiatives were the first ever rolled out by an Albertan government. We are one of the last governments across North America to offer a solar initiative. The next grant will be the Residential and Commercial Solar Program, which was being whispered about last year. When it comes to grants those that get in early, are those who benefit the most before the funding runs out.
If you are one of those interested in a solar array it might be best to start thinking hard about getting your home or business in que. Now that 2016 proved to be such an eye opening year, I believe 2017 will be the year of the install.