Complete Guide For Solar Power Ontario 2018
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Ontario!
This page contains all available information about installing a solar power system in Ontario, as of 2018.
Ontario is the fourth sunniest province in the country and has an abundance of space for solar – so let’s not waste our awesome natural resources!
The page is broken into simple sections so you can easily find information about incentive & rebate programs, utility information, and local solar panel companies – 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 Ontario as being Canada’s eighth best province for solar power. Ontario scores higher than most provinces because of Ontario’s net metering programs and for being the fourth sunniest province in country!
Ontario is also due to launch to GreenOn Solar Rebate Program for residential homeonwers which can save you $1 or more per watt on your solar system. (Cancelled by the Ford administration)
As of 2018, the Ontario was Canada’s largest installer of solar power (per capita). There is currently over 800 MW of developed solar projects across the province from the cities of Toronto, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, and Sudbury. Plus another 1500 MW of solar projects on rural properties across the province.
Curious to see how we rank our provinces? Check out our rankings and rating page to find out more.
Basics of Solar Power in Ontario
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 Ontario 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 hydro bill (see Hydro One’s electricity bill as an example) 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) / 1,195h
(where 1,195h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Ontario)
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 8.37 kW solar panel system!
10,000 kWh / 1,335h = 7.49 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 for neighbours or trees, 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 Ontario 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.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
Click here to get a free solar power estimate.
Solar Performance Payments: A
Programs: Net Metering
Selling Price: Retail Rate
Excess Buyback: None, Utility Keeps
Size Limit: Varies
Anniversary Date: Rolling Month Basis
The Ontario Energy Board has set FIT and net metering regulations that are followed by all energy distributors in Ontario. So regardless of if your provider is Hydro One, Guelph Hydro, Toronto Hydro, or any other energy distributor – the following general information still applies.
If you install solar on your roof or in your yard, you can send your excess energy back to the grid for credits. Credits are earned for energy produced at the same retail rate that you buy it for, and can be carried forward month to month to offset your future energy usage. However, credits can’t be carried forward forever.
Depending on your distributor, credits will expire after they’ve been carried forward for 11 to 12 consecutive months. Other distributors will simply choose a single day each year, known as your ‘anniversary date’, when the credits will expire. This means that under the net metering program you can never actually make money from your system – you can only break even!
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you will be charged HST on your gross energy usage, not your net energy usage. This is because Revenue Canada recognizes both in-going and out-going power as separate transactions – so don’t be surprised if you have to pay tax on your energy bill – even if you’re not paying for power!
And finally, homeowners should be aware that many distributors will switch your billing from TOU (time of use) to a tiered billing structure. This is because most distributors don’t have the technological capacity for accounting bi-directional TOU energy flow. You can read more in this Ontario Sustainable Energy Association document.
At one point in time a FIT (Feed in Tarrif) or microFIT program existed in Ontario that DID allow excess energy to be produced, however both of these programs are now closed due to Ontario reaching the necessary solar capacity laid out in its 2017 Long Term Energy Plan.
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: F
GreenOn Solar Rebate
Unfortunately, there is no provincial rebate for installing a solar power system in Ontario. However, at least three other provinces will be ending their programs this year and four others already have, so Ontario is not alone!
But it’s not all bad news – There are plans to launch the GreenOn Solar Rebate Program this summer. Under this program homeowners can save $1/watt on the total cost of their solar pv installation, and even more if they plan to go off-grid or add battery packs. Be sure to bookmark this page and check back soon for updates! (Cancelled by the Ford administration)
However, it’s best to keep in mind that rebates are not necessary when assessing solar power feasibility, they’re just nice to have. Most homeowner still see a modest payback period depending on their current usage rates and the orientation of their house.
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.
Do you want to see how much you can save? Click here to get a free estimate for your home or business!
Electricity Costs: C
Main Provider: Many
Average Rate: $0.095/kWh
Average Fixed Cost: $25/mo
Ontario has one of the lowest variable electricity rates in the country due to an abundance of hydro and nuclear energy production. When it comes to solar – this may mean that your potential savings is lower than it would be in other provinces. But keep in mind that energy rates tend to increase yearly, thus solar would provide you with a long-term price buffer!
Fixed rates are also important to keep in mind. Currently the average homeowner in Ontario pays about $25/mo – and this won’t disappear even if you switch to solar. This fee remains in place in trade-off for being able to take advantage of the net-metering program, and for allowing you to use the energy grid as your back-up power supply!
Lastly, there are some utility fees that you should be aware of. Depending on your energy provider you may be charged for a bi-directional meter (needed for net-metering) or for an interconnection study. For example, Guelph Hydro will charge a 1-time connection fee of $1695 and Hydro One will charge $30/mo.
Our free cost estimates build in all of these fees specific to your distributor. We can estimate your specific pay-back period, internal rate of return and more. Why not request one today!
Solar Potential: B
Average Production: 5976 kWh
Main Effect: Snow
Ontario has the fourth highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving more average annual solar irradiation than any most other provinces.
According to a data collected in 2007 by National Resources Canada, the average solar system (5 kW) in Ontario can produce approximately 5,976 kWh of electricity per year!
This average power production decreases slightly as you move from north to south in the province. For example:
- The average solar power system in Thunder Bay will produce 6126 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Ottawa will produce 5990 kWh of energy per year.
- The average solar power system in Toronto will produce 5812 kWh of energy per year.
For comparison, here is what a 5 kW solar array looks like:
(Photo used with from Roots Rock Solar)
This means that the average Ontario 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: C
Renewable Energy Goals: 50% by 2025
Solar Energy Goals: 3% Total Production by 2032
Ontario aims to produce 50% of its electricity via renewable resources by the year 2025. This may sound great, but if you compare Ontario to the rest of Canada, you realize that it’s nothing special (see chart above)! On the bright side, Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan outlines goals to generate 2% of their total electricity using solar power by 2025 and 3% of their total electricity by 2032.
Renewable energy goals aren’t a major factor that we to rank the provinces, but we thought you might like the information anyway!
Solar Power Ontario: Summary
Because of Ontario’s awesome solar potential, low cost-entry fees, and experienced solar installers – we rank Ontario as being the #8 province in the country for switching to solar power.
Are you ready to get started? Click here to get a free cost estimate today!
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