Solar FAQs

Have your questions answered about solar energy! We have compiled and answered the most frequently asked question about solar power systems in this section

1. How do Photovoltaics work?
Photovoltaic (PV) cells are made up of at least 2 semi-conductor layers. One layer containing a positive charge, the other a negative charge.
Sunlight consists of little particles of solar energy called photons. As a PV cell is exposed to this sunlight, many of the photons are reflected, pass right through, or absorbed by the solar cell.
When enough photons are absorbed by the negative layer of the photovoltaic cell, electrons are freed from the negative semiconductor material. Due to the manufacturing process of the positive layer, these freed electrons naturally migrate to the positive layer creating a voltage differential, similar to a household battery.
When the 2 layers are connected to an external load, the electrons flow through the circuit creating electricity. To increase power output, cells are combined in a weather-tight package called a solar module or solar panel. These modules (from one to several thousand) are then wired up in serial and/or parallel with one another, into what’s called a solar array, to create the desired voltage and amperage output required by the given project.
Due to the natural abundance of silicon, the semi-conductor material that PV cells are primarily made of, and the practically unlimited resource in the sun, solar power cells are very environmentally friendly. They burn no fuel and have absolutely no moving parts which makes them virtually maintenance free, clean, and silent.
2. How long will PV panels last?
Because solar systems have no moving parts, they very reliable and require little maintenance.
Solar modules come with a manufacturer’s warranty for a lifecycle of between 20 and 25 years. Depending on the quality, the installation can last up to 60 years, depending on the type of solar module.
3. How will a solar array affect the life of my roof?
The panels will not harm your roof in any way when properly installed. A solar array will actually increase the life of your roof. Frankly, they protect the areas located directly beneath them from the ravages of weather, light, and heat. You may even find that the room(s) of your home directly beneath the panel installations will remain cooler in summer and warmer in winter, regardless of the other insulation.
4. How big of a solar energy system do I need?

Under the MicroFit program the maximum size of a solar array is 10 kW.  To install a 10 kW system you only need 700 square feet of roof space.

 

5. How do I know if I have enough sunlight for PV?

To get the most out of your solar array you will need unobstructed access to the sun’s rays for most of the day.  Climate does not really affect solar arrays, in fact the colder the climate the better it is for solar.  Since most solar panels are mounted on an angle that is flush with your roof snow melts quickly in the winter.

 

6. Why should I buy a solar PV array?

Solar energy is clean and renewable energy.  The process of manufacturing solar panels created 90% less pollution than the process of refining fossil fuels for our energy needs.  Solar is a great alternative energy source that helps protect the planet.

In Ontario the Ontario Power Authority runs the MicroFit program.  The MicroFit program allows homeowners and businesses to place solar arrays on their roofs and receive a 20 year contract with the government that pays a set amount for every kiloWatt hour that the array produces.  This incentive program makes it solar not only great for the environment but a great investment as well.

Top Reasons to Buy Solar:
Return on Investment (ROI): Solar offers a substantial ROI – better than many other investment options.
Increased Property Value: You can expect a 3-4% increase in your residential home value.
Guaranteed income: Your monthly solar income for 20 years is backed by the Ontario government so there’s no risk involved.
Support the local economy: Generating energy through solar power system creates green jobs in Ontario and stabilizes energy prices.
Future-oriented: Solar power supports the health of our environment and future generations and a better energy infrastructure for Ontario.
Green leadership: Thanks to the FIT program, Ontario is now considered a global leader in solar power generation. Take part in our province’s leadership in solar power generation and a green future!

7. What is the Feed-in Tariff (FIT)?

On September 24, 2009, the Government of Ontario officially launched Canada’s first feed-in tariff, a new renewable energy program established under the landmark Green Energy Act developed to encourage and promote greater use of renewable energy sources including solar photovoltaic (PV) for electricity generating projects in Ontario. A feed-in-tariff (or FIT) is a 20-year contracted rate paid for renewable energy generation. It provides standardized program rules, prices and contracts. Feed-in-tariffs refer to the specific prices paid to renewable energy suppliers for all of the electricity produced by the generating facility. The pricing structure provides a reasonable return on investments and is differentiated by project size and technology type.

8. The microFIT Opportunity

Consider the benefits of generating green energy from renewable sources such as the sun, and selling it for a guaranteed price. You can be part of Ontario’s growing green energy movement, make money and contribute to a cleaner environment.

The microFIT Program gives you the opportunity to develop a very small or “micro” renewable electricity generation project – 10 kilowatts (kW) or less in size – on your property.

Intended to encourage the development of renewable energy projects across Ontario, the microFIT Program offers you stable prices under long-term contracts for energy generated from renewable sources, including solar photovoltaic (PV).

Under the program, you will be paid a guaranteed price over a 20-year term for all the electricity your project produces and delivers to the province’s electricity grid. The microFIT Program prices are designed to cover your typical project costs and provide you with a reasonable rate of return on your investment over the term of the contract. Not only will the new FIT program benefit the environment, create jobs and boost Ontario’s economy, it will also offer Ontario homeowners and small commercial businesses a great investment opportunity through the microFIT program.

9. What is the difference between the FIT Program and microFIT Program?

The microFIT Program is a “stream” or component of the FIT Program, designed specifically to encourage the development of micro-scale renewable energy projects, such as residential solar PV installations and small ground mounted power facilities. If you are a homeowner, farmer, or small business owner, you have the opportunity to develop a small or micro renewable electricity generation.

Projects eligible for microFIT must have a generating capacity of 10 kW or less. Under the microFit program, you will be paid a guaranteed price for all the electricity your project produces for at least 20 years. The microFIT Program has streamlined contracting and application processes. The FIT Program is for projects over 10 kilowatts installed on rooftops or ground mounted. To speak to a representative, call 1-888-SUN(786)-3814.

10. How do I apply for microFIT?

To apply for microFIT, visit http://microfit.powerauthority.on.ca/ or call one of our representatives at 1-888-SUN(786)-3814.

 

11. How much does it cost to apply to microFIT?

There is no fee to apply for a microFIT system.

 

12. When will I receive my first microFIT payment and who will I receive it from?

You will receive your first payment after your system is approved to be connected to the grid. Your monthly cheques will be provided to you by the Ontario Power Authority via your local distribution company.

 

13. Where can I find the FIT Rules?

The FIT rules are located on the Ontario Power Authority’s website.  The Green Energy Act (GEA) has received Royal Assent but has not been proclaimed.

 

14. Why a Feed-in Tariff?

The province of Ontario wants renewable energy to be part of its future. It believes that electricity from solar photovoltaic technology can deliver clean energy directly to consumers. Although solar electricity is expensive today, the province introduced this program to help consumers put solar photovoltaic energy to work, with the goal of lowering costs and growing an industry that is ready to become mainstream.

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