Community solar movement grows in T.O

My Clean Break feature in today’s Toronto Star looks at homeowners in several Toronto communities that have banded together to make bulk purchases of solar PV systems. So far more than 200 people have committed, and organizers of the groups plan to replicate the model in other communities across Canada to help take the complexity and risk out of purchasing solar PV. This is a great story about how the community — not government or industry — is rising up, creating awareness and ultimately making real change in their own backyards.

7 thoughts on “Community solar movement grows in T.O”

  1. Great article Tyler.

    Had I bought a studio rather then rent, I would be all over this. Even though my electricity is included in my rent, I still may go Gurilla with my building by installing a small stand alone system. After all – its not only the cost of energy for me, but where it is coming from. It’s suprising how low my energy needs are, now that I am in a bright condo unit (and luckily im on the top floor).

  2. The article states the cost of a 1 kwatt system is $13,000 but it does not seem clear to me whether that is 1 kw peak output or 1 kw year-round average output. The difference is enormous, since capacity is only about 15%.

    The article mentions that Ontario Hydro will pay 42 cents for solar power. Why? That is nearly ten times what they would have to pay in the wholesale market for offpeak power. Is it simply a subsidy?

  3. I would assume prices are for peak 1kW system – roughly $10/W for solar.

    Solar power is on-peak power! On hot and sunny days electricity prices can spike above 50 cents/kWh and much higher, well timed with solar electric production.

  4. Actually, it’s 1 kilowatt averaged out over a year, not just for peak. So it’s better than what you thought. As for the 42 cents, it’s a way to stimulate takeup of solar PV in Ontario. But when you consider we often pay more than 50 cents during peak times for importing power from the U.S., 42 cents isn’t that high.

  5. Thank you for the responses to my question about cost per year-round versus peak output. The numbers provided are interesting. At around $10 thousand per kW installed, and a price per unit of power produced of $0.42, a solar power installation in Ontario could earn 36.8% gross return on investment (8760 hours X $0.42 = $3679.00/10,000).

    With a 10% capital cost allowance, and 10% for operation and maintenance, solar power in Ontario should yield a handsome return on investment.

    Is this calculation correct, and if so, what is preventing investors from taking up Ontario Hydro’s offer in large numbers? Or maybe they are taking up Ontario Hydro’s offer in large numbers.

  6. The calculation should adjust a bit:

    1. average sunshire for a year is 8 hours

    2. assume using fix panel against moving sun, average colletct 60% sun shine.

    3. add 30% cloudy days.

    Then income = 365x8x0.6×0.7×0.42 = $515/year

  7. Simple payback calculations for solar in Ontario are:

    $10 to install every Watt.

    1250 equivalent hours of ‘peak sunshine’ available in Southern Ontario per year

    So: 1kW installed would be $10,000

    It would normally generate 1kW x 1250 hrs = 1250kWh per year.

    At $0.42 per kWh that would yield $525 per year.

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