There are several solar panel myths in Alberta, and one of these myths is “Alberta is not a good place for solar power”. People think that solar panels are not effective in Alberta’s cold climate, well this is not true at all. Although solar panels may not perform at their highest efficiency in colder temperatures, they are still capable of generating electricity even in Alberta’s winter months. In fact, Alberta has one of the highest solar potentials in the world! Within Canada, Alberta is one of the sunniest provinces, making it a great place to have solar panels!
How do we figure? Well here are the statistics:
Solar Energy Potential in Alberta
Alberta’s annual usable solar energy is 26EJ. So what does that mean? To put it into perspective, oil and mining industries including coal, oil, and bitumen provide 12 EJ annually.
Sunshine in Alberta
Alberta has the second highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving more solar irradiation than any other province or territory other than Saskatchewan!
Based on the visible sunlight during daytime hours, Alberta and Saskatchewan share the highest percentage of sunny days 50% of days are sunny in Alberta. On average, other Canadian provinces see about 45% of sunny daytime hours.
That’s about 320 days of sunlight, compared to other provinces’ average of 300 days.
Calgary tops the list for most sunshine hours with 2,396 hours of sunlight per year. Following Calgary is Winnipeg, then Edmonton with 2,345 hours of sunlight. Even though solar panels work even when it is overcast and raining or when covered in snow, this much sunshine provides a great amount of energy for solar panels to convert to electricity.
Germany is a current leader in solar energy, despite the fact that Alberta has a greater solar potential.
What about in the cold?
Solar panels use light to make electricity, not heat, so your panels will work perfectly fine in the cold.
In fact, they will work better. While there is a significant amount of science behind it, basically it comes down to the force and amount of electrons. When it is really cold the amount of volts, or force, increases.
Imagine a garden hose that needs pressure to move water through it. The voltage is how much pressure you have to move an electrical current. When it is cold, the current, or amount of electricity that fits in your hose, decreases.
The material used on solar panels are semi-conductors, which means that they will become hot when there is a large current because of resistance.
Conclusion: When there is more force and less push, there is less resistance, which means the panels are working better.
What about the snow?
First off, solar panels often created heat, which melts the snow and enables the snow to slip off.
Even when the snow does not fall off, the panels are still producing electricity from the light that shines through it. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) conducted an extensive study which verifies this conclusion, and is available here.
Read our blog Do solar panels work in winter in Alberta? for more details.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, why not get a free quote for your solar panels so they can start working for you now?
Give us a call or submit this form for your free estimate!