My Clean Break column today in the Toronto Star (it’s only online at the moment) looks at research underway at St. Lawrence College and Queen’s University in Kingston that is looking at how snowfall impacts the performance of PV panels from a variety of suppliers (crystalline and thin film) and in a range of configurations. I’ll let you read the column, but the interesting part for me is that preliminary study has indicated an albedo effect that partly compensates for lost performance due to panel snowcover. Seems for the short period of time panels do have snow on them, the longer-lasting snow that surrounds these panels amplifies the sunlight and improves the output of the panels. The benefits vary depending on panel angle and design. The higher the angle, one would presume, the better the albedo effect, and I would also imagine that thin film — which better captures the energy in ambient light — would also benefit more from the albedo effect. Will be interesting to see the results of the second phase of their study, which is taking place at four test sites in southern Ontario. Many of the regions of the world offering generous solar incentives (such as feed-in-tariffs) and experiencing some of the most rapid growth also happen to be in snowfall zones. So this kind of study will be valuable in several solar PV markets, including Canada-U.S. borders states.
A Queen’s University study in the journal Energy Policy has come out in favour of strong government support for solar manufacturing in Ontario. The study looked at six scenarios under which both federal and Ontario government support would be provided.
- Full construction subsidy.
- Construction subsidy and sale
- Partially subsidized construction
- Public ownership of manufacturing plant
- Full loan guarantee for construction
- Income tax holiday
Under all scenarios, “both governments enjoyed positive cash flows from these investments in less than 12 years and in many of the scenarios both governments earned well over 8 per cent on investments from 100s of millions to $2.4 billion,” according to an abstract of the study. “The results showed that it is in the financial best interest of both the Ontario and Canadian federal governments to implement aggressive fiscal policy to support large-scale PV manufacturing.” Continue reading Queen’s U study says government support for solar manufacturing a no brainer