Canadian Consulting Engineer

Report looks at viability of solar power in over 20,000 communities across Canada

November 29, 2018

Whether solar power is competitive in a province often depends more on local electricity prices than the amount of sunlight received.

A new interactive online report released by the National Energy Board (NEB) allows Canadians to assess whether it makes financial sense to install solar power, both residentially and on a commercial basis.

The report, Economics of Solar Power in Canada, estimates the amount and cost of electricity solar projects might generate in four scenarios: residential, commercial, community and utility-scale.

It also compares these costs to local electricity prices allowing people across the country to understand the implications of installing solar now, in the near future, or what it would look like to install solar in a low-cost future based on location.

Whether solar power is competitive in a province often depends more on local electricity prices than the amount of sunlight received.


The cost to install solar has decreased over the past five years in Canada while electricity delivery costs have increased in areas, making solar power more cost competitive with other forms of traditional electricity generation. As costs fall in the future, break-even prices will continue falling too, making solar installation more affordable for Canadians.

The NEB monitors energy markets and assesses Canadian energy requirements and trends to support its regulatory responsibilities. This report is part of a portfolio of publications on energy supply, demand and infrastructure that the NEB publishes regularly as part of its ongoing market monitoring.

  • Homeowner, businesses and communities are expected to save money with solar in many places in PEI, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
  • Provincial rebate programs can lower the cost of installing solar, and homeowners and businesses might save money in provinces like Nova Scotia and Alberta, where rebate programs exist.
  • Nunavut and the Northwest Territories are places where installing solar might make financial sense, because of their high cost of diesel-generated electricity.
  • Smart meters, like those installed in Ontario, could increase the adoption of residential, commercial and community solar projects as they help increase the value of electricity generated during the middle of day and improve solar economics.
  • In 2017, utility-scale solar was about 2% of Canada’s utility-scale electricity-generation capacity. However, because solar is only able to generate electricity during daylight hours, it generated less than 1% of Canada’s power.
  • NEB’s Energy Futures 2018, in its Reference Case, projects that solar power will grow to 3.5% of Canada’s capacity and 1.1% of Canada’s generation in 2040.
  • In Energy Futures’ Technology Case, where technology is assumed to improve at a faster pace, solar power is projected to increase to 7.5% of Canada’s generation capacity and 3.2% of Canada’s generation in 2040.


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