Complete Guide For Solar Power Nova Scotia 2019
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Nova Scotia!
Nova Scotia is currently ranked the #1 province in the country for installing a solar power system, scoring as one of the best provinces for rebates, financing options, and installation costs.
This page contains all available information about installing solar in Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia as being Canada’s second best province for solar power in 2019. Nova Scotia scores higher than most provinces because of the Efficiency Nova Scotia SolarHomes Program, PACE financing options, and for having decently low installation costs.
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 Nova Scotia.
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 Nova Scotia Power 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) / 1,090h
(where 1,090h equals the annual average equivalent of full sunlight hours in Nova Scotia)
So let’s pretend you added up your power 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 9.17kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 1,090h = 9.17kW
Now that you know the size of your system, you’ll want to determine the best place to put it. Most residential homeowners in Nova Scotia 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 $2.83/Watt (the average cost of installing a solar system in Nova Scotia). Using the example from the sizing section, we can see that a 9.17kW system would cost approximately $25,950 to install.
System cost = size needed x cost per installed watt
= 9,170Watts x $2.83/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 $3.50/Watt for premium equipment installed by the highest quality installers.
Major Program: SolarHomes
Savings: 35% or $0.85/Watt
Expiring: March 2022
Nova Scotia is the most abundant province in the country when it comes to solar energy rebates and energy efficiency incentives. This section briefly covers the energy incentives available to homeowners. A more in-depth explanation of each can be found on the Nova Scotia Incentives Page.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Per Watt. Most solar rebates in the province are awarded based on the size of the system you install in units of Watts. Jump back up to the Sizing Section if you don’t understand what this means.
- Eligible Costs. Most rebates have a maximum funding amount that is based on a percentage of total eligible expenses. In general, eligible expenses include the full cost of materials and installation, but not the cost of taxes.
- Qualified Installation. Finally, rebates in Nova Scotia must meet certain installation qualifications. This often includes the stipulation that the system must be installed by an Efficiency Nova Scotia qualified installer with CSA approved electric equipment (All energyhub.org partner installers are qualified).
- Application. Rebate applications, including all paperwork, should be handled entirely by your installation company. We’ve vetted our installation partners to ensure they are capable of doing this for you.
Solar Rebates & Tax Credits
The largest solar rebate program in Nova Scotia is the SolarHomes Program administered by Efficiency Nova Scotia.
This program allows property owners to earn a cash rebate of $0.85/Watt for residential solar power installations with a minimum size of 1kW and up to a maximum rebate amount of $8,500.
Here is what the savings would look like if we used the same size system from the sizing section:
(9,170 watts) x ($0.85/watt) = $7,795
The average Nova Scotian can offset their power consumption with a 9.17kW system (9,170 Watts) which will come with a rebate of $7,795.
Other Energy Incentives
Nova Scotia also has a number of other energy rebates available to homeowners:
- Green Heat Program
- For Nova Scotian residents
- Rebates for solar thermal, geothermal, heat pumps, wood stoves, and more.
- HomeWarming Program
- For low income Nova Scotian residents
- Free home energy assessment and home upgrades
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: 1090kWh/kW/yr
Average Energy Use: 88GJ/yr
In terms of available natural resources and homeowner energy demand, Nova Scotia is one of the best provinces in the country to install solar. This section briefly covers the amount of sunlight that Nova Scotia receives (solar irradiation) as well as energy demand from homeowners.
According to data from National Resources Canada, the average solar system in Nova Scotia can produce 1090kWh 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 Nova Scotia:
This yearly average decreases as you move north and east in the province and increases as you move south and west. For example:
- A 1kW solar system in Halifax would produce about 1,073 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Dartmouth would produce about 1,076 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Truro would produce about 1,095 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in Amherst would produce about 1,125 kWh/yr
- A 1kW solar system in New Glasgow would produce 1,081 kWh/yr
Total Energy Demand
The average household in Nova Scotia uses 88GJ of energy per year – that’s the equivalent of 24,400 kWh of electricity! And although most homes only use about a third of that (because of other forms of heating), the number still demonstrates a strong 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 power bill with a solar system.
Variable Costs: $0.15/kWh
Fixed Costs: $11/mo
Setup Fees: $750+
Nova Scotia scores in the mid range when it comes to 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 Nova Scotia.
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 power bill that goes to zero when you don’t use any energy. Thus the relatively high rates in Nova Scotia ($0.15/Watt) means that the average homeowner has a lot to save with solar.
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 – $11/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 most homeowners don’t do due to the large price and maintenance costs of battery storage. Plus, 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 the 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.
Nova Scotia’s Enhanced Net Metering Program allows for systems up to 100kW in size to be connected to the grid for net metering. The best part is that if you produce more energy than you use over the course of the year, you get a cash payment equal to the value of the difference!
The only catch is that you’re not allowed to purposely oversize your system – it has to match you previous consumption history.
Solar Setup Fees
Nova Scotia’s Enhanced Net Metering Program also dictates that when you attached solar to the grid you’ll need to pay $750 for an interconnection study as well as for a bi-directional meter if you don’t already have one. This is opposed to many provinces like it’s neighbour PEI where the utility covers the cost of the fees.
Access To Solar
Upfront Cost: $2.83/Watt
Installer Access: High
A completely new section to this year’s Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia range from $2.40-$3.20 with the average price being somewhere around $2.83.
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 Improvement Charge (LIC). The only eligibility is that you need to own a certain portion of your home.
PACE financing is currently open to many communities in Nova Scotia with the largest program being the Solar City Halifax Program. More information about PACE financing in the province can be found the the Clean Energy Financing Page of the Government of Nova Scotia’s website.
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 Nova Scotian homeowners:
- Heat Pump Financing (energy loan)
- NS Power number: 1-866-828-5961
- Efficiency Nova Scotia Brokered Loans (energy loan)
- RBC contact number: 1-877-999-6035
- 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 Nova Scotia solar guide is the access to reputable and high quality solar installers. And fortunately, Nova Scotia has no shortage of them.
Solar Power Nova Scotia: Summary
Because of Nova Scotia’s $1.00/Watt rebate, PACE financing options, low installation costs, and high access to solar installers, – we rank Nova Scotia as being the #2 province in the country for switching to solar power.
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