Photovoltaics in Canada – An Introduction

Canada is one of the highest energy consumers per capita in the world. Due to its geography, Canada is currently the world’s second largest producer of hydroelectricity and is sixth in wind power generation. Nevertheless, solar energy is also expanding rapidly in Canada and especially, in Ontario. In 2011, there was 289 MWDC photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed throughout the country representing 335 GWh annually.

Canada has a significant amount of annual solar radiation, much greater than that of Germany’s the leader in solar energy. Ontario, Quebec, and the Prairies are leading the country in solar resources. Solar potential tends to accumulate in the southern regions but is much lower in the territories due to their high latitude. Canada’s small population is most scattered throughout the country with very few densely populated regions besides the Greater Toronto Area, Vancouver, and Montreal. In the last decade, PV installations were concentrated in off-grid systems for purposes such as navigational aids, remotes homes, and telecommunication.  These systems made up almost 90% of the solar capacity in Canada in 2009. Off-grid system remains prominent in Canada but will decrease in its market share as grid-connected systems continue to grow swiftly.

Government Regulations

Federal incentives are lacking in Canada, with the exception of the Income Tax Act’s Accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for certain PV systems. Solar energy legislature is almost always left solely to the provincial government. Most provinces in Canada have Net Metering programs that allow smaller renewable energy generating units to connect to the grid system.

Ontario has so far been the clear winner in Canada’s solar race. Ontario’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) and feed in tariff (FIT and microFIT) program has had substantial support. In 2010, the public budget for photovoltaics in Canada was $61.8 million with the majority funding Ontario’s solar efforts. Formal solar networks and testing facilities for panels have also been established, funded by both federal and provincial governments, which have worked to increase the collaborations and PV innovations throughout Canada.


In 2010, Sarnia, Ontario’s solar plant, Sarnia Solar, was considered the world’s largest solar plant. It has since been exceeded by other plants around the world. It has an installed capacity of 97MW and consists of 635 acres of modules, approximately 1.3 million thin film panels. Municipal governments and communities have also worked towards developing renewable energy. House owners now view the addition of a PV system as a normal house upgrade and base it on affordability and reductions in environmental impact. In 2007, the Drake Landing Solar Community was completed in Okotoks, Alberta. It is the first community heated by a district system and is able to store energy generated during the summer for the winter months. This allows 90% of each home’s heating to be generated directly from solar energy.

Despite all this, Canada is still behind some of the major competitors. However, politicians all around Canada are aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through use of renewable energies. New legislation such as Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act established in 2009 is also pushing the country towards a renewable energy  -based economy. As older electricity plants begin to degenerate and age, Canada is looking towards renewable energy to replace ever increasing energy demands. Canada’s vast landscape is an unlimited resource for sustainable energy from renewable sources.

Check out the article on Ontario later on in the week which will expand on its legislation and accomplishments in solar energy.

Sources: Canmet, Cansia, DLSC, Pembina Institute


Organic recyclable solar cells from trees

In early March this year, scientists from Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University published an article on their newly created solar cells using cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, in other words, trees. One of the issues revolving around solar power is the necessity for a more sustainable production of solar cells, especially with regards to petroleum and silicon based cells. Further development and advancement in the life cycle, scalability, and sustainability of a solar module is required.

Nano particles for PV systems

Nano particles from trees? – ©franckreporter

CNC substrates have a low toxicity, can be produced in industrial-sized quantities, and are inherently renewable. The nanoparticles the researchers are using are considered high-value and are both abundant and recyclable. At a life-cycle perspective, these solar cells can easily be detached through a low-energy process at room temperature. Its major components can be separated by fully immersing the cell in water which acts to redisperse the CNC substrate. This organic solar cell has a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 2.7%, one of the highest of its kind, yet, it is still far beyond the PCEs of petroleum and glass based cells.

Currently, organic solar cells are usually fabricated on glass or plastic. Experimental designs with paper have also been undertaken as it is low-cost, recyclable, and flexible.  However, using paper as a substrate for solar cells is still quite limited in its performance.

Organic solar cells are a desired technology due to its low manufacturing cost, light weight, and mechanical flexibility. Currently, its greatest setbacks are its low PCE and short lifetime. However, the scientists acknowledge that their organic cells are lacking a competitive edge in the current market, at least until future organic solar modules reach a PCE of 5% and a 5 year lifetime. With further development of this organic technology, its potential could be infinite as a scalable, renewable source for sustainable energy production.

Source: Forbes; Nature

Interview British Photovoltaic Association Chair Reza Shaybani

British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) is the National trade association of the UK solar photovoltaic industry. The association was formed in April 2010 after the introduction of the FiT. Since then the BPVA has grown significantly and has become the most influential and trusted voice of the solar PV industry in the UK.

Mainstream utility generation ‘trending’ in the PV sector

Utility-scale applications have doubled in a year to 12GW, while growth in other parts of the PV sector has slowed. Philip Wolfe, whose book on solar power stations was published recently, explains why these applications will continue to march on.

Milk the Sun Photovoltaic Projects: Highlights Week 9

After this week’s launch of our French version of our online marketplace, we are able to present our latest project highlights with a focus on the French market.

Milk the Sun sends a weekly newsletter with the highlights of each week. Register free of charge to get access to all our international projects.

Saxony PV system marketplace

369.00 kWp operational system in France
100.00 kWp turnkey project in Languedoc-Roussillon, France
90.00 kWp turnkey project in Languedoc-Roussillon, France
75.00 kWp turnkey project in Languedoc-Roussillon, France
70.00 kWp turnkey project in Languedoc-Roussillon, France
33.00 kWp turnkey project in Languedoc-Roussillon, France

2,9 MWp operational system in Brandenburg
1,3 MWp operational system in Saxony-Anhalt
316.00 kWp turnkey project in Bavaria

1,000.00 m² roof area for pv in Berlin

Other highlights
2 MWp turnkey project in Georgia, USA
1 MWp project rights in Poland

Are you interested in investments in photovoltaic? Register for free on to get access to all our projects.

Interested in leasing your roof or land? Do you own PV project rights or operational systems that you want to sell?

With Milk the Sun all system, roof and land owners, as well as project rights holders, can list their projects free of charge and non-exclusively to a wide range of investors.

For the first time a free online calculator determining current PV installation sales values is available, supporting owners selling operational photovoltaic plants.

Have a nice weekend and regards,

Your Milk the Sun Team


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