ENMAX Solar Power – Spread the Renewables

We were excited to receive in the mail an invitation to tap into solar power from ENMAX. The invitation is very empowering and it gets more people to think about energy alternatives and sustainability. The ENMAX direct mail reached over 8,000 people in Alberta and could help to make a real big difference in the generation choice that Albertan’s make. By making these energy choices in our homes and businesses, we can all make our communities a better and healthier place to live. Our experience proved that in addition to all solar power benefits listed in the ENMAX invitation, grid connected solar power in Alberta can be a cost-effective solution as well. Give us a call if you need a hand in the renewable energy feasibility study. We will do all the calculations for you and show the opportunities in the energy generation and energy conservation with the shortest payback, so you could make an intelligent energy choice yourself.

New Round of the Alberta Solar PV Equipment Pilot Program

A new round of the Growing Forward Solar PV Equipment Pilot Program will be announced on April 2nd, 2012. The funding for farmers will be limited and will be distributed again on the first come – first serve basis. If you missed the first round and would like maximize your chances in this round, make sure you have the Growing Forward number and a development permit/letter from your county ready. Feel free to contact Dandelion Renewables if you need any help.

Alberta Solar PV Equipment Pilot Program

Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development announced today a new Solar PV Equipment Pilot Program. The program is designed to fund new PV grid-tie installations for Alberta farmers running an agricultural operation with a minimum $10,000 annual gross agricultural income. The funding is limited and will be distributed on the first come – first serve basis. Read more about Alberta Solar PV Equipment Pilot Program at Government of Alberta webste or here.

Membership in the Solar Energy Society of Alberta

Solar Energy Society of Alberta (SESA) is a great local hub that unites many like-minded people. The society educates, promotes and leads the way to the sustainable development, energy conservation and wide-spread use of renewable energy. Check out SESA website for next free seminars and we hope to see more friends out there.

Options for Solar and Wind Micro-generators to Minimize Transmission and Distribution Charges

A grid-tie solar/wind system in Alberta that is sized exactly to match an average annual load helps to avoid only a portion of transmission and distribution charges. One would legitimately argue why a distributed generation does not receive transmission and distribution credits for the power exported to the grid? When a KWh of energy generated by solar panels or a wind turbine is sold to the grid, it stays in the distribution system. When this KWh is consumed by your next neighbor, your neighbor pays both transmission and distribution charges for this energy. As the KWh never leaves the distribution system, transmission system costs should either not apply to this KWh or credits for saving on transmission expenses shall be assigned to the distributed generator. We leave this argument to the micro-generation system designers and hope that they can address this problem in the future amendments. Under the current regulation, micro-generation system owners are left with the two choices:
  1. add a battery back-up to the existing system, or
  2. build an oversized photovoltaic or wind system to be net-positive in order to offset the transmission and distribution charges.
The first option can be implemented by coupling an existing utility-interactive inverter with a battery-based inverter/charger, a concept known as AC Coupling. This implementation has numerous technical challenges and requires custom automation needed to draw the energy stored in the battery bank before drawing power from the grid and the ability of the battery-based inverter/charger to charge the batteries only when there is an excess of the solar or wind power. The second option is to size the renewable system slightly larger than your needs. The credits earned on the energy side can be used to offset the costs on the distribution and transmission side of the bill as long as you have the same company representing an energy retailer and a wire service provider. It would be interesting to empirically determine if the offset mechanism works the same way when an energy retailer and a wire service provider are two different companies.

Alberta RRO prices jumped to 15.1 cents per KWh in January 2012

The increasing grid power prices in Alberta make arguments for power conservation and distributed generation even stronger. January RRO prices jumped to 15.1 cents per KWh for Edmonton customers mainly due to the outages in Alberta coal-fired power generation. Earlier in November 2011, an increase in Edmonton distribution tariffs and tariff adjustments resulted in higher total rates. The RRO customers will now pay 15.1 cents for energy in addition to from 4.2 to 6.1 cents per KWh for transmission, distribution and tariff adjustments. For comparison, the current levelized cost of energy for Edmonton grid-tied PV systems at un-shaded sites is only 11 cents per KWh.

Solar power reached a grid parity in Alberta

Since the end of year 2011, the investments in grid-tie solar systems became financially viable with the savings on the power bill outweighing the initial investment. Here is what makes a grid-tied photovoltaic technology competitive and affordable in the Alberta power market today:
  • constantly falling photovoltaic system costs,
  • increasing power prices,
  • a recent increase in distribution charges,
  • Dandelion Renewables passion to find the latest and best technical solutions at the lowest prices.
Depending on your type of commercial or residential power service and your site, Dandelion Renewables can help you to generate up to 4% annual return on this low risk investment in a grid-tied solar system.

Energy Conservation – Economics

WIND POWER

Investments in wind power have the potential to yield double digit returns, assuming proper selection of tower height and turbine at a good site. A good rule of thumb is that at the turbine hub height the average annual wind speed should exceed 5m/s to make the project feasible.

SOLAR POWER

At current market prices the levelized cost of grid-tie photovoltaic energy is $0.11/kWh, which is on par with retail costs of grid power, a photovoltaic system will also help save on a portion of the distribution and transmission charges.

MODULE PRICE INDEX

Constantly falling PV system costs, increasing power prices, a rise in distribution charges, and Dandelion Renewables commitment to find the best quality at the lowest price, all combine to make photovoltaic systems competitive and affordable in today’s power market. Keeping money in a high interest savings account yields an approximate 1.2% annual rate of return, investments in grid-tie solar projects can generate higher returns, reduce the impact of volatile commodity prices, and help the environment. By taking $20,000 out of your 1.2% savings account, and investing it in a solar power system which yields a 4.1% rate of return you will generate an additional $27, 664 after 25 years, compared to the savings account. More PV installations will allow Dandelion Renewables to leverage even better prices for large volume orders, and we would be able to pass those savings onto you, our customers. With your support we are confident that photovoltaic energy will become a major contributor to the power supply.

Solar Power for Builders

The easiest thing a builder can do to encourage solar is to build new homes as solar ready. Dandelion Renewables has developed a 4 step process to ensure that a new home is truly solar ready.
  1. Dandelion Renewables consults with the builder about best practices for a specific home at either the design, or construction stage;
  2. Either the builder or Dandelion Renewables installed the recommended Solar Ready components and takes into account the design recommendations;
  3. Dandelion Renewables visits the site to inspect and measure the solar potential and supply Solar Ready labels;
  4. Dandelion Renewables issues an Alberta Home Solar Ready Certificate with both qualitative and quantitative items reported.
There is an average of 15 items on the certificate that would help a homeowner appreciate the builder’s commitment to green building. While our approach of quantifying Solar Ready components is unique, it is essential in order to help builders optimize the solar efficiency of house designs. Refer you builder to Dandelion Renewables and we will be happy to educate, and train them in how to build Solar Ready items at your home. Capturing the maximum solar potential at the construction stage helps the builder to switch to photovoltaic power, or solar thermal energy sooner. Benefits to the homeowner include:
  • It’s easy to include
  • It is easy to sell when it has the detailed certificate
  • It helps to differentiate your company from your competitors

Solar Power for Schools and Municipalities

All across the globe community owned wind and solar projects are becoming more common. Many different groups benefit from a community project: residents, investors, the municipality, and the project developer. Here at Dandelion Renewables we believe that the time has come for Alberta’s communities to begin investing in these projects to ensure that the benefits are localized, and are felt for as long as possible. We have the expertise to both, advocate for community owned projects in your area, and to present this idea to your local government. We would love to hear from you if you live in a community where you think a community owned solar project would be supported. Alternatively, maybe you are interested in investing locally in renewable energy projects but have natural limitations on your own site, contact us to be a part of community power projects in Alberta.