Rooftop solar can save Ontario $250M per year

According to a new study, installing more rooftop solar can help meet electricity demand while saving ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Toronto, Ontario, August 12, 2021 — Homeowners already know that rooftop solar panels will save them money on their electricity bills. But a new study from the Canadian Renewable Energy Association confirms that solar can benefit all ratepayers whether or not they themselves put solar on their roofs.

In fact, doubling Ontario’s solar-generation capacity would help reduce costs for the whole energy system by up to $250 million per year by 2030.

The “Impact of Behind-the-Meter Solar in Ontario” study was conducted by Power Advisory LLC, a leading North American consultancy specializing in the electricity sector. CanREA asked Power Advisory to model different scenarios for the adoption of rooftop solar PV on homes and businesses across Ontario by 2030, including a high-ambition scenario that envisioned adding 3,000 MW of new solar capacity (double the current total) over the next decade.

The study used a systemwide dispatch model to assess how additional solar would affect Ontario’s wholesale electricity market. It showed that increasing the deployment of rooftop solar would achieve significant cost savings for the electricity system. This would be accomplished by reducing its reliance on costly, polluting natural-gas generation to meet daytime summer peak electricity demand, and by reducing the need for additional, expensive power procurements in the future.

“Solar electricity generation peaks on hot summer days, when Ontario’s electricity demand is at its highest due to the demand from air conditioning. Our Impact of Behind-the-Meter Solar in Ontario study shows that, by meeting that peak with solar power, we can significantly reduce the cost of the Ontario electricity system,” said Nicholas Gall, CanREA’s Director of Distributed Energy Resources.

The study showed that by enabling more electricity to be generated locally, solar could also help Ontario avoid the need to invest in new electricity grid infrastructure to accommodate rising demand in many regions of the province, which could translate into further cost savings.

Globally, the cost of solar electricity has fallen by approximately 90% since 2010. This extraordinary cost decrease has put rooftop solar within reach for more Ontario households and businesses than ever before.

“However, regulatory red tape is holding solar back in Ontario,” said Gall. “By making a few key changes, Ontario could take advantage of the fantastic cost savings described in our study.”

Doubling Ontario’s rooftop solar capacity in the next decade is eminently doable.

“Ontario currently has approximately 3,000 MW of solar PV. Doubling it by 2030, as per the study, would mean installing rooftop solar on 19,000 homes and 175 big-box stores each year for the next decade,” said Gall. “For the sake of comparison, the Netherlands, which is approximately the size of Ontario both in terms of population and electricity demand, installed nearly 3,000 MW of solar just in 2020 alone.”

It is clear that solar power can play an important role in meeting Ontario’s future electricity needs, while providing cost savings and environmental benefits to all Ontarians. CanREA continues to advocate for doubling Ontario’s rooftop solar PV capacity by 2030, which would allow consumers to take full advantage of a massive, systemwide savings of up to $250M per year by 2030.

The study is available here.

Quotes

“Solar electricity generation peaks on hot summer days, when Ontario’s electricity demand is at its highest due to the demand from air conditioning. Our Impact of Behind-the-Meter Solar in Ontario study shows that, by meeting that peak with solar power, we can significantly reduce the cost of the Ontario electricity system.”

“However, regulatory red tape is holding solar back in Ontario. By making a few key changes, Ontario could take advantage of the fantastic cost savings described in our study.”  

“Ontario currently has approximately 3,000 MW of solar PV. Doubling it by 2030, as per the study, would mean installing rooftop solar on 19,000 homes and 175 big-box stores each year for the next decade. For the sake of comparison, the Netherlands, which is approximately the size of Ontario both in terms of population and electricity demand, installed nearly 3,000 MW of solar just in 2020 alone.”

—Nicholas Gall, CanREA’s Director of Distributed Energy Resources

Background

The results of this study inform CanREA’s priority actions in Ontario, encouraging solar to deliver real savings for households and businesses. For example:

  • CanREA advocates for access to a Time-of-Use rate option for consumers who install rooftop solar PV. For these consumers, access to summer-peak electricity rates would improve the return, on surplus solar electricity exported during these periods, by over 70%
  • CanREA also advocates for Third-Party Ownership of net-metered rooftop solar. Third-party financing arrangements enable businesses and homeowners to lease a net-metered rooftop solar PV system, reducing their risk and making solar electricity more accessible if they lack the upfront capital to purchase the system outright.
  • CanREA supports Virtual Net Metering, also known as Community Solar, which enables customers who cannot generate solar energy on their own roof (including renters and condominium owners) to do so at a different, suitable site nearby. Virtual Net Metering frameworks are already in place in more than 20 US states, and Nova Scotia is currently leading the development of the first such framework in Canada.

About the Canadian Renewable Energy Association

The Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) is the voice for wind energy, solar energy and energy storage solutions that will power Canada’s energy future. We work to create the conditions for a modern energy system through stakeholder advocacy and public engagement. Our diverse members are uniquely positioned to deliver clean, low-cost, reliable, flexible and scalable solutions for Canada’s energy needs. Our vision is to ensure wind energy, solar energy and energy storage play a central role in transforming Canada’s energy mix.

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For more information or for interview opportunities, please contact:

Katherine Picard, Communications Manager
Canadian Renewable Energy Association
613-875-2483
[email protected]