solar panels in BC, worthwhile?
BC’s electricity is already 90% green and close to zero-carbon, so I’m wondering if investing in Solar Panels is really worthwhile here? Ultimately, the grid should be able to carry on providing electricity in the event of a severe fuel shortage. A natural disaster could wipe out the electricity supply, so having solar panels with battery backup would be beneficial in that situation, but of course even then you’re limited by battery capacity and the system setup is quite pricey. I’m just trying to weigh the pros and cons – what do you guys think?
Hi, yes they are worthwhile in BC. First get a solar hot water system. If you have an electric hot water heater it should save 25% on your bill. Look at the Camosun system for a cost effective solution. As for PV, it is not yet economically viable, but I think a small 2-3 KW grid tie with battery back up is worthwhile for the resilience it will give you. You can expect about 1000kw give or take, per installed killowatt per year in electricity production.
I can't truly know if a small solar system is right for you, but
I have a small system, approx 2.5 Kwatts that has enabled me to save an easy approx 30% easy off my electric bill. As it depends on the weather, your mileaage may vary. I do get a higher savings during the warmer months.
The true benefit for me isn't is the system green or zero fossil fuels as much as it allows me to take control of my energy use. I am still grid tied, but I use the grid as I would use a generator: that is, I use it to power my power hungry appliances and the house when the sun doesn't shine.
I have had to make some life-style changes, such as turning off the freezer or grow LEDs when there is cloud cover. But the benefits are worth it.
As I live in Vermont, I sized the system to be twice the Kwatts I would need during the Winter months. I will probably add another kilowatt in the next year for the added comfort or add a remote start gennie for convenience.
FWIW, the lowest consumption I have off the grid is 3KwH during the night from running the fridge and freezer this April. I will get it lower this week as I turn those appliances off at night.
Thank you very much for your feedback guys.
I guess the only other question I have is in regard to spending this money on a solar PV system vs. paying down the mortgage on the house.
The worst case scenario is that a depression type event occurs and because of layoffs etc. we would be unable to make payments on the mortgage and ultimately lose the house. Then of course the solar PV was a waste of money…
Would it be beneficial to first pay off a mortgage before installing solar? The quote I received for 20 solar panels with a battery backup was approximately $36,000 CAD, which is a significant sum to invest.
Any input is appreciated.
To get a chart of the solar exposure for your area see: