Installing more rooftop solar panels would help Ontario meet future electricity demand and save money for ratepayers across the province, a new study finds.
“Doubling Ontario’s solar generation capacity would help reduce costs for the whole energy system by up to C$250 million per year by 2030,” reports the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA).
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The new study [pdf], conducted by Power Advisory LLC, models different scenarios of rooftop solar adoption on homes and businesses across Ontario through the end of this decade. Included in the analysis is a “high-ambition scenario” that considers adding 3,000 MW of new solar capacity over the study period.
After assessing how the additional solar would affect Ontario’s wholesale electricity market, the study projects significant overall cost savings accomplished by reducing “reliance on costly, polluting natural gas generation to meet daytime summer peak electricity demand, and by reducing the need for additional, expensive power procurements in the future,” writes CanREA.
Solar generation is most available on hot summer days and therefore aligns energy supply with increased demand for air conditioning, unlike other power sources that are stressed by demand peaks. Generating more electricity locally would also help Ontario avoid large investments in grid infrastructure.
The cost of solar electricity has fallen by about 90% since 2010, making rooftop panels more affordable for Ontario households. However, “regulatory red tape” is limiting solar expansion in the province, says CanREA. Some priority actions the organization recommends include a time-of-use rate option to give solar users access to summer-peak electricity rates, third-party ownership frameworks to facilitate leasing arrangements by homeowners and businesses, and virtual net metering (also known as community solar) to enable users who cannot generate enough energy on their own rooftops to do so at a site nearby.
“Doubling Ontario’s rooftop solar capacity in the next decade is eminently doable,” CanREA says.