Here’s a photo of my solar system in Oak Bay, BC. Its been producing about 1500 kWh per year since 2005. Our power bill in July was $37. I love it!
There is a certain beauty in solar electricity. Given that the main ingredient is sand (albeit very refined, to make silicon and glass), they last virtually forever. What other product out there has a 25 year warranty? Nothing I can think of. So once a solar electric, or PV panel is installed, it starts producing electricity, and will continue to do so for a long time. Sun comes up – electricity comes out. No fuel, no bearings or oil changes, and so no operating costs.
If you buy a generator at Costco (say $500), and pay for fuel ($1 per kwh), you pay as you go, so it seems cheap. With solar, you’ve paid for 25+ years of electricity up front, and it seems expensive. Thats the tricky side of solar systems – paying today but receiving the benefits over a very long time. But the cost of solar is compared to oher choices, like a generator.
However, being in the solar business, we have become associated with many people who have spent the money up front and added solar to a home connected to their local utility. For them the decision to use solar was not just about cost, but other things. Solar reduces their electric bill, yes. Solar makes sure the power they do use comes from a source they are happy with. Who in Alberta really likes coal fired electricity, or in Ontario nuclear. Solar says we care, and we are leading by example.
Solar is getting cheaper and utility is getting more expensive, so we will see grid parity pricing. I am 50 years old, and I believe we will see that happen in my working career. And if nothing else, as a busineman and an industry activist I hope to help push towards programs that decrease the cost of solar installations in Canada.
If you want to talk about grid-tie systems for your home or business, call me! This is our passion. We can and will make this mainstream in Canada.
Dave Egles, President, HES Home Energy Solutions.