Lower panel prices boost interest in home solar power but true cost is complex


Shifting policy and power prices make it difficult to estimate how long it will take for energy savings to pay off the capital cost of a home system, said Nicholas Gall, director, distributed energy resource for CanREA, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association.

Abundant — and cheap — hydroelectric power in Quebec, for instance, makes it more difficult to justify home solar power on a cost-saving basis there, he said.

Still, the declining cost of solar panels makes them a much better deal today than they were a decade ago.

“Costs for solar panels have fallen by about 55 per cent between 2008 and 2018,” he said, citing the most recently available numbers.

“Those costs will represent anywhere from 20 to 45 per cent of the total installed cost. There are fixed costs that haven’t come down as much, for labour and permitting and design, but the hardware is continuing to decrease in price.”

Installations are long-lived, he said, noting some installed in the 1980s are still producing plenty of electricity and panels installed today are expected to last at least 30 years.

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