Complete Guide For Solar Power Newfoundland and Labrador 2018
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Newfoundland and Labrador!
This page contains all available information about installing a solar power system in Newfoundland and Labrador, as of 2018.
Newfoundland and Labrador is rated Canada’s worst province for solar power (oh no!). But homeowners in the province can still take advantage of an awesome net metering policy – or move off the grid altogether!
The page is broken into simple sections so you can easily find information about relevant policies, incentives programs, and utility information – depending on what you’re looking for.
You can read from top to bottom, or simply click on a section to skip to it below:
Overall Solar Rating: F
We’ve ranked Newfoundland and Labrador as being Canada’s worst province for solar power. NL scores much lower than other provinces because it receives the lowest amount of sunlight in the country (due to cloud cover and fog) and because electricity rates are relatively low (and thus solar savings potential is limited).
But it’s not all bad news – there are at least two positive sides to this coin:
- Even though solar irradiation is lower in NL than in the rest of the country, NL still receives more than Germany (which is seen as a global leader in solar power)
- Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland Labrador Hydro have one of the best net metering policies in all of Canada
So if you live in St. John’s, Corner Brook, all the way up in Cartwright or anywhere in-between – solar power might not be that bad of an idea at all!
Curious to see how we rank our provinces? Check out our Rankings and Rating Page to find out more.
Basics of Solar Power in Newfoundland and Labrador
This section covers some of the basic information about switching to solar power:
If you already consider yourself a solar expert, you can skip ahead to the Newfoundland and Labrador Solar Incentives Section by clicking here.
Sizing Your System
In most cases, the first questions that come to a person’s mind are, “how big does my solar power system need to be?” and “can I completely off-set my electricity usage?”.
Answering these questions is as simple as knowing how much energy you use during the course of a year. Your monthly NL Hydro Bill will show your usage (in kWh) exactly like in the photo below:
You’ll need to figure out how much energy you use in a year by adding up the amount shown for 12 consecutive months. Taking one month and multiplying by 12 won’t work because your energy use fluctuates depending on the season!
After you know how much energy you use, you can easily calculate the size of the solar power system that you’ll need by using the following equation:
Size of system needed = yearly energy use (in kWh) / 943h
(where 943h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Newfoundland and Labrador)
So let’s pretend you added up your power bills and determined that you use 10,000 kWh in the course of a year, you would then do the above calculation and determine that you need a 10.6 kW solar panel system!
10,000 kWh / 943h = 10.6 kW
Keep in mind that this is only a rough estimate. The size if your system may change depending on the angle your panels are installed at, the amount of shading that your system receives, and the amount of sunlight that your specific city gets. But not to worry…
If you get a free estimate, our partner installers can create a 3D model of your house, build in shading elements like trees or neighbouring buildings, and then use weather data from the closest weather station to calculate an extremely accurate estimate of how much energy your system will produce!
Now that you know the size of your system, you’ll want to determine the best place to put it. Most residential homeowners in Newfoundland and Labrador put the solar panels on their roof, while most rural homeowners put them on the roof of their house, shop, or in their yard.
If you’re putting solar panels on your roof, you should know:
- A south facing roof is best, east and west facing are good, north facing is just OK
- Output on panels are guaranteed for 25 years, so you may need to replace your shingles before installing
- If you’re concerned about snow, roof mounted panels are harder to clean
- Your roof’s pitch (slope) is not the most optimal angle for solar production
If you’re putting solar panels on the ground, you should know:
- These systems are more expensive upfront due to piling requirements, mounting materials, and power line trenching…
- … But are cheaper in the long term because they are more efficient (see next point)
- They can be easily placed to avoid shading, to the optimal direction (south), and to the optimal angle (~45°)
- Systems can be much larger than roof mounted ones
Cost of Installation
The rough calculation is simple, take the size of your system and multiply it by the cost per installed watt quoted by your installer.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
Generally, the cost varies depending on the type of system you want to install (ground or roof mount) and the installer that you choose!
Click here to get a free solar power estimate.
Newfoundland and Labrador Incentives
Solar Performance Payments: B
Programs: Net Metering
Selling Price: Retail Rate
Excess Buyback: Retail Rate
Size Limit: Up to 100 kW
Anniversary Date: Yearly
As mentioned, Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland Labrador Hydro have some of the best net metering policies in the country. Under their programs, homeowners are able to connect their solar system to the energy grid and receive credits for any excess power that they produce.
Excess energy credits can be carried forward month to month to offset future usage until once per year, on the “anniversary date”, they reset to zero and you get paid in cash for the balance! This may seem straightforward and fair, but this policy is actually better than most provinces. Take Saskatchewan or British Columbia for example where their utilities don’t pay for excess energy (it’s simply given back to the grid, for free).
Remember that a net metering policy is necessary for most solar power systems. Without it, you would need batteries (currently extremely expensive) to store excess energy that is produced.
Solar Rebates & Tax Credits: F
Unfortunately, there are no rebates currently available in Newfoundland and Labrador except for the federal tax provision for clean energy. Under this program, businesses are able to depreciate the cost of the solar system at an accelerated CCA rate of 50%. The federal tax provision also applies to farms that are incorporated.
Lack of rebates are becoming ‘the norm’… at least three other provinces are ending their rebate programs in 2018. Rebates certainly help, but this industry will need to survive without them in the long term!
Do you own a business? Keep in mind that if you purchase your solar system through your business, you can take advantage of the federal tax provision allowing you to depreciate the costs at an accelerated CCA rate of 50%!
Remember, Solar Panel Power Canada also has a special Cash Incentive. It’s not huge – but it’s easy to claim, just send us a picture of your installation with one of our preferred installers! See the SPPC Cash Incentive Page for full participation details and terms.
Electricity Costs: C
Main Provider: NL Power / NL Hydro
Average Rate: $0.10604/kWh
Average Fixed Cost: $16/mo
Due to an abundance of hydroelectricity generated at the Muskrat Falls dam, energy costs in Newfoundland are fairly cheap – so switching to solar power doesn’t make sense in all cases (if financial savings are your main goal). However, one good thing is that the variable rates are low. This is important because variable rates don’t disappear, even if you switch to solar while staying on grid! Contrast this to a place like Alberta where fixed rates can reach up to $48…
But keep in mind that rates aren’t everything, some homeowners want to become energy-independent and move off the grid altogether while others want to switch to solar because it’s better for the environment.
Solar Potential: F
Average Production: 4713 kWh
Main Effect: Cloud Cover & Fog
Newfoundland and Labrador has the lowest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada. But as we mentioned, this is not as gloomy as it sounds!
There is still more solar potential in NL than in Germany which is considered a world leader for solar power. So don’t let foggy weather get you down.
According to a data collected in 2007 by National Resources Canada, the average solar system (5 kW) in Newfoundland and Labrador can produce approximately 4,713 kWh of electricity per year!
This average power production decreases as you move south in the province and increases as you move north. For example:
- The average solar power system in Corner Brook will produce 4745 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Conception Bay will produce 4732 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Mount Pearl will produce 4663 kWh of energy per year.
For comparison, here is what a 5 kW solar array looks like:
(Photo used with from a preferred solar installer)
But don’t worry! A homeowner in NL can still completely offset their yearly power usage with a solar system. You can figure out what size system by following the instructions on this page!
Pro tip: You should aim to install enough panels to offset 110% of your energy bill. This ensures that you will always producing enough energy to cover your costs, as regular solar panels degrade 0.5% to 0.7% per year.
Renewable Energy Policy
Portfolio Standards: B
Renewable Energy Goals: Currently 85%
Solar Energy Goals: None
Newfoundland and Labrador currently produces most of its energy from hydro. And with the on-boarding of the Muskrat Falls dam, this capacity is expected to increase in the future. However, Newfoundland and Labrador has a long history of failed energy projects and the Muskrat Falls damn might soon be another victim because of over-budgeting. If this remains the case then electricity prices will skyrocket in the province making solar power a very attractive option!
Solar Power Newfoundland and Labrador: Summary
After considering all factors that effect a person’s decision for switching to solar power – we rank Newfoundland and Labrador as being the #13 province in the country for switching to solar power.
Are you ready to get started? Click here to get a quote today!
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