Complete Guide For Solar Power Newfoundland and Labrador 2019
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Newfoundland and Labrador!
Newfoundland and Labrador is currently ranked the worst province in the country for installing a solar power system, scoring near last in almost every category except for having high electricity costs.
This page contains all available information about installing solar in NL including solar incentives, regional geography, electrical utilities, and access to solar, as of 2019.
You can read from top to bottom, or skip to your preferred section by clicking on it below:
Overall Solar Rating
We’ve ranked Newfoundland and Labrador as being Canada’s worst best province for solar power in 2019. Newfoundland and Labrador scores lower than all other provinces due to low sunlight levels, high installation costs, and low access to installers. There also appears to political impediments that threaten the future possibility of any renewable energy in the province.
However, NL does have reasonably high electricity rates that are due to rise even further in the future – making the prospect of solar power a little bit better.
Curious to see how and why we rank the provinces the way we do? Check out the Solar Rankings Page to find out more.
Basic System Information
When thinking about solar power, the first questions that often come to a person’s mind are:
- “How big does my solar system need to be?”
- “Can I completely offset my electricity usage?”
- “How much will it cost?”
This section is intended to answer these basic questions before going into the details about installing solar in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sizing Your System
Determining the size of system you need is as simple as knowing how much energy you use during the course of a year. Your monthly NL Hydro Bill will show your usage (in kWh) similar to 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. Note that taking one month and multiplying by 12 won’t work because 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 (in kW) = yearly energy use (in kWh) / 949h
(where 949h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Newfoundland and Labrador)
So let’s pretend you added up your hydro bills and determined that you use 10,000kWh over the course of a year, you would then do the above calculation and determine that you need a 10.54kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 949h = 10.54kW
Now that you know the size of your system, you’ll want to determine the best place to put it. Most residential homeowners in NL put the solar panels on their roof, while most rural homeowners put them on the roof of their house, shop, or on the ground 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 (or entire roof) before installing
- If you’re concerned about snow, know that roof mounted panels are harder to clean off
- 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 last piece of basic information that you’ll want to know is an approximation of how much your system will cost. To calculate this you’ll need to know the size of the system you plan to install (see previous section).
The rough calculation is simple. Just take the size of your system and multiply it by the $4/Watt (the average cost of installing a solar system in Newfoundland and Labrador). Using the example from the sizing section, we can see that a 10.54kW system would cost approximately $42,160 to install.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
= 10,540Watts x $4/Watt
Please note that the exact price of the system depends on several factors including the system size, the quality of equipment used, and the complexity of the job. Even the range in the chart above is just for the average – installation prices can easily go as high as $4.50/Watt for premium equipment installed by the highest quality installers.
Major Program: takeCHARGE Program
Savings On: Energy Efficiency Upgrades
Newfoundland and Labrador does not currently have any solar rebate programs, however it does have a decent energy efficiency program through Newfoundland Power and NL Hydro. This section briefly covers the energy incentives available to homeowners. A more in-depth explanation of each can be found on the Newfoundland and Labrador Incentives Page.
Solar Rebates & Tax Credits
As mentioned, no solar rebate or tax credits exists in the province, nor have they ever.
Other Energy Incentives
Newfoundland and Labrador also has a number of other energy incentives available to homeowners:
- takeCharge Program
- For Newfoundland Power and NL Hydro customers
- Rebates for insulation upgrades, thermostats, lighting, and more.
- Home Energy Savings Program
- For low income residents
- Grants up to $5,000
Businesses can now use the Federal Tax Provision for Clean Energy Equipment to fully expense their solar system. This means a CCA rate of 100% and the abolishment of the first year rule.
Remember, energyhub.org also has a special solar incentive. It’s not huge, but it’s easy to claim – just send us a picture of your installation or purchase agreement with one of our certified energy installers. Full details on the energyhub.org Cash Incentive Page.
Production Efficiency: 949Wh/kW/yr
Average Energy Use: 83GJ/yr
In terms of available natural resources and homeowner energy demand, Newfoundland and Labrador is on the lower end for provinces in the Canada. This section briefly covers the amount of sunlight that NL receives (solar irradiation) as well as energy demand from homeowners.
Newfoundland and Labrador has the second lowest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving less solar irradiation than most other provinces and territories except for the Yukon Territories.
According to data from National Resources Canada, the average solar system in Newfoundland and Labrador can produce 949kWh of electricity per kW of solar panels per year.
Here is how much an average solar system can produce each month, as well as the solar irradiation potential map for NL:
This yearly average decreases as you move north and west in the province and increases as you move south and east. For example:
- A 1kW solar system in St. John’s would produce about 936 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Conceptio would produce about 947 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Mount Pearl would produce about 933 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Paradise River would produce about 977 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Corner Brook would produce 950 kWh/yr
Total Energy Demand
The average household in Newfoundland and Labrador uses 83GJ of energy per year – that’s the equivalent of 23,100 kWh of electricity! And although most homes only use about a half of that (because of gas heating), the number still demonstrates a reasonable need for energy generation and energy efficiency technologies.
In sum, at least for the average homeowner, it is completely possible to offset one’s yearly hydro bill with a solar system.
Variable Costs: $0.11/kWh
Fixed Costs: $17/mo
Setup Fees: Yes
Newfoundland and Labrador scores in the mid range for switching to solar power in terms of utility related factors. This section covers how the costs of electricity as well as solar setup fees affect of the feasibility of solar in NL.
Variable Electricity Costs
Variable electricity rates determine the maximal amount of money that can be saved by switching to solar – ie. they represent the portion of your hydro bill that goes to zero when you don’t use any energy. Thus the relatively low rates in NL ($0.11/Watt) means that the average homeowner will save only a moderate amount of money.
Fixed Electricity Costs
On the other hand, fixed electricity costs are not so good because they don’t disappear even if you switch to solar power – you’ll pay them as long as you remain connected to the grid. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – $17/mo is a small price to pay for using the grid as your energy back-up and virtual energy storage device.
The only way to completely remove your fixed costs are to go off the grid, something more and more NL homeowners are beginning to do. But remember, disconnecting from the grid means you won’t be able to participate in a net metering program.
Net Metering Policy
Net Metering is one of the most important policy mechanisms that makes solar a feasible energy generation option. Net Metering essentially means that you can send the excess energy that you produce (during the day and summer) back to the electricity grid and earn credits for that energy at the same retail rate that you buy it for.
These credits can then be used to offset your energy usage during times when your solar system doesn’t produce as much energy as is needed (during the night and winter). Without this mechanism, you would need to purchase an extremely costly set of batteries.
NL Hydros’s Net Metering Policies allow for systems up to 100kW in size to be connected to the grid for net metering, however it’s very important to note that credits in NL expire yearly, thus you’ll want to work closely with your installer to make sure your system perfectly matches your energy usage.
Solar Setup Fees
NL Hydros’s current policies also dictate that you need to pay for a bi-direction net meter when you switch to solar power. This is opposed to many places like Nunavut and the Northwest Territories where interconnection and bi-directional meter fees are covered by the utility!
Access To Solar
Upfront Cost: $4/Watt
Financing: Energy Loan
Installer Access: Low
A completely new section to this year’s Newfoundland and Labrador solar guide, Access to Solar explores the major accessibility factors in the province.
Cost of Installation
The upfront cost of installation is obviously one of the largest factors that determines whether or not a person is going to switch to solar. The current prices in NL range from $3.50-$4.50 with the average price being somewhere around $4.
The price changes depending on a variety of factors:
- The size of system required (larger systems are cheaper on a per Watt basis)
- The complexity and/or specific requirements of the job
- The type and quality of equipment used
- The quality of the installation company
Remember, you can easily calculate the total estimated cost of your system in the Basics Section at the top of this page.
In general, aiming for the cheapest price shouldn’t be your goal. Remember that the energy output on solar equipment is guaranteed for 25 years, so you want to make sure that your installation job is good enough to support that. You’ll also want to be sure that the company you choose will be around in 5 to 10 years from now in case you need service or warranty work done.
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an innovative financing option that allows you to cover the entire upfront cost of your solar system (or energy efficiency upgrades) with a $0 down, long amortization period, low interest ‘loan’.
However, unlike a typical loan, this loan is attached to your property (not you) and is paid back alongside your property tax bill as a Local Improvements Charge (LIC). The only eligibility is that you need to own a certain percentage of your home.
Unfortunately, no PACE financing is currently available in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Other Financing Options
Obviously though, PACE is not the only way to finance a solar system. Systems can be financed by cash, bank loans, installer financing, home equity loans, a home equity line of credit, a mortgages (for new builds), or through energy loans.
Several options exists for NL homeowners:
- Energy Efficiency Loan Program (energy loan)
- Interest Rate of +5.2%
- RBC Energy Saver Loan (energy loan)
- Up to 10 years amortization
- RBC contact number: 1-800-769-2511
- TD Bank (various options)
- TD contact number: 1-866-389-8888
- CMHC Mortgage Loan Premium Rebate
Access to Installers
The final category that we ranked for this year’s Newfoundland and Labrador solar guide is the access to reputable and high quality solar installers. And unfortunately, NL has very few of them.
Solar Power Newfoundland and Labrador: Summary
Newfoundland and Labrador has low sunlight levels, high installation costs, and low access to solar installers – for these reasons (and more) we rank NL as being the worst province in the country for switching to solar power.
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