Complete Guide For Solar Power Nova Scotia 2018
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Nova Scotia!
This page contains all available information about installing a solar power system in Nova Scotia, as of 2018.
Nova Scotia has the highest electricity rates in the country and one of the best Net Metering policies – so let’s make the most of this opportunity for savings!
Content on this page is broken into simple sections so you can easily find information about local solar panel companies, incentives programs, or 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: B*
We’ve ranked Nova Scotia as being Canada’s ninth best province for solar power. But don’t let rankings deceive you! *Since we scored our provinces earlier this year, Nova Scotia has released it’s Solar City Halifax financing program and has been upgraded to an overall score of “B”!
Nova Scotia also scores high because electricity rates are extremely expensive (and thus the savings potential is large) and it’s Enhanced Net Metering program is one of the best in the country! Some downsides include a relatively low amount of sunlight (compared to the prairies) and tiny renewable energy goals.
Interest in solar power has been rising rapidly in the past few years. In 2016 there were less than 90 homes that switched to solar power while in 2017 there where were 130! In 2018, between 150 and 160 homes are expected to switch to solar across the province from Cape Breton to Halifax to Queens and everywhere in-between.
Basics of Solar Power in Nova Scotia
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 Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia Power 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) / 1,068h
(where 1,068h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Nova Scotia)
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 9.36 kW solar panel system!
10,000 kWh / 1,068h = 9.36 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 Nova Scotia 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. Variation depends on the size of the system you’re installing, the location of your system, and which installer that you choose. But in general, installations in Nova Scotia should cost between $2.00-$3.00 per installed watt.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
Click here to get a free solar power estimate.
Nova Scotia Incentives
Solar Performance Payments: B
Programs: Enhanced Net Metering
Selling Price: Retail Rate
Expires: 20-Year Agreement
Excess Buyback: Yes
Size Limit: Up to 100 kW
Anniversary Date: Yearly
Nova Scotia Power’s Enhanced Net Metering Program allows you to earn credit for the excess energy that you produce with your solar system. Excess energy is returned to the grid via a bi-directional meter. Credits can be carried forward month by month to offset future bills until once per year, on your “anniversary date”, you receive a cash payment in the mail for any excess credits on your account!
This all may sound intuitive, but NS Power’s Enhanced Net Metering program is actually superior to other provinces (like Saskatchewan) where the utilities will keep excess power that’s generated without paying for it!
(Keep in mind that net-metering is a vital component of switching to solar because without it, you would need a battery to store excess energy that is produced)
Solar Rebates & Tax Credits: B*
Programs: Green Heat + Solar City Halifax
Residential property owners in Nova Scotia have access to a few programs that can both reduce the cost of their solar system, and help finance it. *These programs are not included in the ranking chart above, and thus we’ve upgraded Nova Scotia to a score of “B” for solar power rebates.
The first program available to homeowners is the Green Heat program offered by Efficiency Nova Scotia. This is a one-time rebate of $400-$1000 that’s given to homeowners who upgrade their traditional heating system to a solar thermal one. See the Green Heat application form or speak to an installer to see if you qualify.
The second program is Nova Scotia’s unique Solar City Halifax financing program. Solar City offers homeowners in Halifax a way to skip the upfront cost of a solar power system by offering a 10 years fixed interest loan (4.75%) with the option to pay the balance in full at any time and without penalty! Keep in mind that the loan must be paid in full before you are able to sell you property. You can see if you qualify for the programing by registering here.
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 Solar Panel Power Canada Cash Incentive page for full participation details and terms.
Are you ready to get started? Click here to get a free estimate for your home!
Electricity Costs: A+
Main Provider: Nova Scotia Power
Average Rate: $0.1651/kWh
Average Fixed Cost: $11/mo
Nova Scotia has the highest electricity rates in the country (except for the territories) and very low fixed rates. This is good news for solar power in the province because high variable rates mean high cost savings and low fixed rates mean very little ongoing fees. Contrast this to a place like Alberta where fixed rates can reach up to $48…
Remember, fixed rates don’t go away with usage. This means that you still have to pay your monthly meter fees even if you’re generating solar power (unless you go off-grid). This is in trade-off for being able to use the grid as energy back-up, and for being able to participate in the net-metering program.
High electricity rates enable Nova Scotia solar power systems to have some of the lowest pay-back period in the country! Why not get an estimate and see what your payback period is!
Solar Potential: D
Average Production: 5342 kWh
Main Effect: Cloud Cover
Nova Scotia has the highest ninth best potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving modest amounts of sunlight.
According to a data collected in 2007 by National Resources Canada, the average solar system (5 kW) in Nova Scotia can produce approximately 5,342 kWh of electricity per year!
In general, average power production decreases as you move north in the province and increases as you move south. For example:
- The average solar power system in Kingston will produce 5607 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Halifax will produce 5360 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Cape Breton will produce 5060 kWh of energy per year.
For comparison, here is what a 5 kW solar array looks like in Nova Scotia:
This means that the average Nova Scotian resident can 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: D
Renewable Energy Goals: 40% by 2020
Solar Energy Goals: None
Nova Scotia aims to produce 50% of its electricity via renewable resources by the year 2030. This may sound great, but if you compare Nova Scotia to the rest of Canada, you realize that it’s nothing special! (see chart above)
On the bright side, not only is solar power becoming more popular but the current government backed incentive programs are both indicators that the province is moving in the right direction. We especially love the Solar City program as it strikes close to the heart of our mission here at Solar Panel Power Canada.
For more about our mission towards 100% community energy generation in Canada, see our about page here.
Solar Power Nova Scotia: Summary
Because of Nova Scotia’s high electricity prices, awesome incentives, enhanced net metering program, and experienced solar installers – we rank Nova Scotia as being the #9 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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