Recent Alberta announcement about residential and small commercial solar power projects support was quite short on details. The program is anticipated to cover up to 30% of the solar installation costs or 75 cents per watt of installed capacity for residential solar and 25% for commercial solar systems starting as of summer 2017.
As Minister of Environment and Climate Change Shannon Phillips noted in the press-conference, solar projects will need to meet a set of requirements to ensure the location has acceptable solar resource.
New approach to support small scale distributed solar leaves a number of concerns and questions:
- The RRO price cap, implemented in 2016 for the next 5 years discourages investments in renewables and energy-efficiency.
- Last announcement for residential and small commercial solar rebate puts AB solar power industry on pause for the next couple of months.
- Third party involvement in managing the rebate program poses a potential risk for the current competitive solar market in Alberta, where a company managing the program could be biased towards selected contractors or project criteria.
- The media covered AB solar rebate initiative as purely roof-top program. Would not it be reasonable to include ground-mounted solar projects in the scope of the rebate?
The size of this 2-year solar rebate program is limited to $36 million. Assuming 50% capacity break-down between commercial and residential; and then assuming 100KW average installed capacity for commercial and 5KW average capacity for residential, the program shall add around 50MW of new solar capacity to the existing 16MW of solar that is currently installed in Alberta.