Will BC Hydro create a home solar power revolution? In contrast to what is happening in Germany we are not harnessing the power of small. The comment below is from the article, Can BC Make Solar Bloom? in The Tyee the past june.
Solar electricity and the German experience
Germany which has lower average solar energy radiation than we have in Vancouver, has installed approximately 50 % of the worlds’ photovoltaic (solar electric) panels. And why is that? The government of the day chose to make homes micro energy producers, thus reducing the need to build new power plants. They decided that many small hands could make “light work” (sorry for the pun). And that’s what happened.
How did they do it? They used an excellent “feed in” tariff (the rate the utility credited the homeowner for producing the solar power) – but the government of the day went one better. They used a dual metering system which applies credit at the *point of production* – not just “left over” power (like we currently have in BC which pays a trivial rate). BC Hydro buys back surplus power at a lower rate than what it costs customers to buy electricity.
The German homeowner receives a credit at point of production at approximately $0.50 per kilowatt hour, and the homeowner purchases electricity at approximately $0.20 cents per kilowatt hour. Kind of like a credit and debit sheet on the bill. Homeowners – and the nation – win on the balance sheet.
German government subsidized a sustainable resource – not the fossil fuel industry (as we in Canada do).
The upshot? Fewer new power plants were needed for peak power requirements (like for air conditioning systems on hot sunny days). People covered their roofs in solar panels, and are able to pay off their solar systems before the warranties expired. Photovoltaic (PV) system Warranties are usually 20 years. PV systems last far past their warranties. They’re generally warranted to drop 20% in capacity after 20 years. The original solar panel developed in the 50’s is still working.
What happens if every homeowner discovers that environmentalism is fundamentally good for their pocket? That is – good for their health, their children’s and their elders health, and good for the local, provincial and national economy.