PV System Overview

solar-cellsPV modules (solar panels) collect the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity using semiconducting material. A module is composed of several solar cells connected in series and in parallel.

PV solar modules are grouped in a solar array, and connected in series or in parallel. By nature, photovoltaic solar power is very modular.

The direct-current (DC) power produced by the PV module cannot be used by the vast majority of household apparatus. The electricity is sent to an inverter that outputs an alternative current (AC) signal.

A PV solar system can be designed to provide the totality of a building’s electricity consumption or a fraction of the building needs.

Interconnection

Before connecting your system to the grid, an electrical meter is installed. Depending on the contractual agreement you have with your local grid operator, metering can take two forms:

FIT and microFIT: The FIT program offered in Ontario requires the installation of a separate meter dedicated to the measurement of the solar system energy production. You will receive a fixed price for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced by your system. The customer keeps paying for the electricity you draw from the grid at the standard rates.

Net-metering: The second interconnection option available in Ontario and Quebec is the net-metering system. A bi-directional electricity meter keeps track of both the energy generated by the solar system and the energy drawn from the grid. If the monthly energy balance is negative (more used energy than generated energy), the customer pays the balance at the standard rates. In this scheme, the grid operator will not pay the customer for a positive energy balance but will instead offer energy credits in the form of kWh.

Once your solar system is installed, Alpine Solar Solutions allows you to easily monitor your energy production, through a web-based interface.

PV System Installation

Installation of a PV solar system should only be performed by licensed professionals. First, the design and installation considers the capacity of the roof to withstand the additional loads of the solar equipment. These can be substantial, especially when additional snow and wind loads are considered. Alpine Solar performs a structural assessment of your building and will install the required reinforcements if required.

Off-Grid Systems

  • The Ontario and Quebec electrical grids are relatively reliable infrastructures that offer customers a peace of mind about the security of their electricity supply. However, many of cottage owners in Canada often don’t have access to the grid and are looking for an alternative way to power the appliances at a minimal cost.
  • Alpine Solar Solutions designs and installs off-grid solar systems, even in the remote Canadian forest.
  • An off-grid system is similar to the grid-connected system described above. Two extra components are required: a battery bank and a battery charger

Solar News

Capital or Major city

Yearly PV potential (kWh/kW)

Regina (Saskatchewan)

1361

Calgary (Alberta)

1292

Winnipeg (Manitoba)

1277

Edmonton (Alberta)

1245

Ottawa (Ontario)

1198

Montréal (Québec)

1185

Toronto (Ontario)

1161

Québec (Québec)

1134

Victoria (British Columbia)

1091

Halifax (Nova Scotia)

1074

Vancouver (British Columbia)

1009

St-John’s
(Newfoundland/Labrador)

933

Natural Resources Canada defines PV Potential as “a variable that gives a simple estimate of how much AC electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) is expected to be generated on average over the lifetime of a typical grid-connected photovoltaic system (without batteries) per unit of photovoltaic system rated DC power in kilowatts (kW) at Standard Test Conditions (STC). “(Natural Resources Canada, pv.nrcan.gc.ca)

The PV potential of the Ottawa region is among the highest in the country. In fact, the Ottawa River corridor between Ottawa and Montreal benefits from relatively important solar insolation year-round.

It is also worth noting that PV solar modules benefit from the typically cold temperatures of this area. Indeed, the efficiency of a solar cell increases with cooler temperatures. So expect your system to generate electricity even in the middle of winter.

To know more about a PV system design.

Solar-Potential-Graph

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