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Solar power in N.S. is cheaper and more widespread than ever

The cost of solar power has fallen 86 per cent since 2009 and continues to drop
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(stock photo)

Renewable energy experts are looking for ways to move away from burning coal in Nova Scotia.

Solar energy, along with hydro electricity and wind power, is one of the ways that industries and homeowners can shift to be more eco-friendly.

"Nova Scotians now are starting to recognize the importance of solar and how it can be used to lessen your energy bills and address climate change," says Lyle Goldberg, a Policy and Regulatory Affairs Manager with the Canadian Solar Industries Association.

In just the past few years, Goldberg says that residential use of solar panels has increased significantly. Part of this is thanks to rebate programs offered by the city and the province.

"In 2015 Halifax Regional Municipality started the Solar City program, which provides financing for solar installations. Then Efficiency Nova Scotia and the department of Energy and Mines started the Solar Homes program, and really that was the game changer last year," Goldberg tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

Part of the reason for that is because solar panels have become more affordable.

"The cost has fallen 86 per cent since 2009 and continues to drop," says Goldberg. "On a utility scale solar is actually cheaper now to produce than coal plants."

Goldberg says that solar electricity now costs between $25 and $50 per megawatt hour.

The policy manager says that despite myths we don't get enough sun in Nova Scotia, there is plenty of electricity generated with your average solar panel.

"We actually get more sun hours per year than Germany, and Germany is number four in the world in solar," he explains. 

But despite all the growth in the residential sector, Goldberg says that industries and governments need to begin the transition to solar energy.

"We need to start seeing solar on the roofs of commercial, industrial, institutional buildings," he says. "Because right now, the only people that can take advantage of solar, primarily, are people that own their own home and that have a roof that's conducive to solar."

Nova Scotia still only produces less than one per cent of electricity through solar power.

"We're seeing huge utility scale solar in Alberta right now. There's three solar farms being built that's going to produce enough power to offset 55 per cent of provincial government operations there," adds Goldberg.

Goldberg says that there's huge opportunity in the solar power industry Nova Scotia in the next few years as we transition more to a green economy.

"Before the Solar Homes program was launched I think we had 15 solar installer companies in Nova Scotia. Now we have over 50," he explains.

Although solar panels can cost on average $20,000, Goldberg says they will pay for themselves in 10 years through savings on your power bill.

"Most solar panels that are installed have a lifetime of at least 25 years if not more," he adds.

The governmental rebates also provide up to $6,000 in compensation.

"It's a good time to do it," says Goldberg, noting how successful his own solar panels are. "I'm saving about 60 per cent on my power bill annually with my system."

Goldberg thinks that within 10 years, Nova Scotia will be at least 80 or 90 per cent on renewable energy. But, he says, we "don't have time to mess around."

"The sky's the limit with solar, but it has to play a key role in the renewable mix as we look for 100 per cent renewable," he says.


Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is HalifaxToday.ca's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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