Q & A

Questions & Answers

 

1. What is solar energy?

Solar energy is electromagnetic energy transmitted by the sun (also known as solar radiation).  The amount of energy that reaches the earth is about 420 trillion kilowatt-hours.

 

2. Will solar work in my location?

Solar is universal and will work virtually anywhere, however some locations are better than others. Irradiance is a measure of the sun’s power available at the surface of the earth and it peaks at about 1000 watts per square meter. With typical crystalline solar cell efficiencies around 14-20%, that means we can expect to generate about 140-200W per square meter of solar cells placed in full sun. Insolation is a measure of the available energy from the sun and is expressed in terms of "full sun hours" (i.e.4 full sun hours = 4 hours of sunlight at an irradiance level of 1000 watts per square meter). Obviously different parts of the world receive more sunlight than others, so they will have more “full sun hours” per day. The solar insolation zone map will give you a general idea of the full sun hours per day during the summer for your location.

 

3. What is the potential for solar energy production in Canada?

One of the myths that the solar industry faces in Canada is that we have a poor solar resource. This is not the case.  Canada has a good solar resource; it is the same resource that fuels its 168 million acres of farmland.  Toronto actually has a better solar resource than Miami during the summer months when the demand for electricity is often at its peak.

 

4. What is the Green Energy & Green Economy Act (GEA)?

The Green Energy & Green Economy Act was introduced into the Ontario Legislature on February 23, 2009; bill 150 will establish Ontario as North America's leader in renewable energy. The legislation, and the expected regulatory changes and policies that will flow from it, include a range of measures intended to foster a culture of conservation and encourage the development of renewable energy projects. Complementary to the GEA, the proposed Ontario feed-in tariff program will guarantee very attractive pricing for utility-connected solar energy and boost confidence and drive investment to Ontario. More information on Ontario feed-in tariff program.

 

5. What is the Feed-In Tariff?

Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program is North America’s first guaranteed pricing structure for various forms of renewable electricity production such as small and large utility-connected solar energy solutions. It offers a very attractive and stable price in conjunction with a long-term contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to boost investment and confidence. It is an essential part of Green Energy and Green Economy Act that was introduced into the Ontario Legislature on February 23, 2009. Other countries, particularly Germany, Spain and Denmark, all have successfully used Feed-In Tariffs or FITs to encourage the development of renewable energy projects. As a leading Solar Energy Provider, Rumble Energy offers turnkey solar electric packages and customized solar energy solutions for residential, commercial, agricultural, community-based groups, and industrial clients to participate under the groundbreaking Feed-In Tariff Program.


6. Why a Feed-In Tariff?

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


7. Who is eligible?

Any person or business can install a solar electric system on their roof and participate in this program. Ideally a home would have a south facing roof slope that receives direct sun during the day. Solar systems require about 100 square feet of area per kilowatt, and at least 2 kilowatts of solar panels are needed to offer a good rate of return.


8. How much does solar cost and what income will it generate as part of the Feed-In Tariff?

Solar systems can be installed on a home for about $9,000 to $12,000 per kilowatt. The range depends on the roof, the efficiency of the solar panels and the overall size of the system – larger systems are cheaper per kilowatt than smaller ones. On an unshaded south facing roof, each kilowatt of solar installed can generate between 1000 and 1300 kilowatt hours, or $800 to $1100 per annum. A ten kilowatt system, costing about $100,000 could generate as much as $12,000 per year. This equates to a Return on Investment of 10%.


9. How large does my residential system need to be?

Your utility-connected solar energy system designed by Rumble Energy works independently and separate from your existing electricity consumption. The energy your solar energy system produces will all be sold to the utility-grid under the Ontario feed-in tariff program for C$80.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for a contract period of 20 years. Because it works separately from your consumption, the size of your solar energy system can be any size you can fit on your roof.

 

10. How much space will a rooftop solar energy system take up?

A 1 kW utility-connected rooftop solar energy system will take up approximately 8 square metres (86 square feet).

 

11. How do I know what my system is producing?

The inverter has a display that shows the cumulative energy produced by the solar array. All participants in the FIT program must install a second utility meter that logs and records the kilowatt-hours of energy produced by the solar system, and your utility will send you a cheque each billing period.

 

12. How much will my solar energy produce?

Your solar energy system is producing power basically from sunrise to sunset. Seasonal factors such as snow, clouds and other factors like trees and buildings will have an effect on your system performance. Canada has plenty of cold, clear and sunny days, which, is a perfect condition for utility-connected solar energy production.

 

13. How much does my solar energy system cost?

Many local factors will influence the price of your solar energy. Please contact us for a solar estimation or for more information.

 

14. Isn’t solar power generation expensive?

The specialized manufacturing required to produce solar panels has meant that the cost of this renewable technology has remained fairly high.  In Ontario, the government has introduced a feed-in-tariff that will pay solar electricity producers $0.42 per kWh for electricity fed into the province’s power grid.  This may seem a high price, but the facts are that solar panels provide maximum output on hot, sunny days when Ontario’s power grid is stretched beyond its capacity. In 2002, on peak days, Ontario had to pay up to 60 cents per kWh for U.S. coal-fired electricity imports.  The $0.42 per kWh tariff is also significantly lower than many other countries, where tariffs range from $0.63-$0.81 per kWh.


15. What do I need to start?

First you need a suitable location for solar panel placement – a flat or south facing roof slope is ideal. Measure the area to determine that you have 200 square feet or more. Second, you will need a budget to purchase the system, or qualify for a home renovation or equity loan from your bank. Then, contact us to find a local installer who can come to your house and discuss the ideal package for you. Once the system is installed, your contractor can help you fill out the FIT application. Once completed, income from your solar system will start to flow. Your roof will be working for you!


16. How long do solar systems last?

Solar electric panels like those made by Sharp Solar have a 25 year power output warranty. They commonly last many years more than that. The system will likely continue to produce electricity long after the 20 year Feed-In Tariff contract has run out.

 

17. How do solar photovoltaic (PV) panels work?

The core technology for solar photovoltaic panels was derived from the space industry development of the 1960s and 1970s.  Energy from the sun can activate electrical potential within certain types of material.  Layers of these specialized materials are sandwiched into a solar panel and the activated energy produces a current of electricity that can be used to power machinery or can be fed into a electrical utility grid.

 

18. How do solar cells generate electricity?

Photovoltaic or PV for short can be thought of as a direct current (DC) generator powered by the sun. When light photons of sufficient energy strike a solar cell, they knock electrons free in the silicon crystal structure forcing them through an external circuit (battery, inverter or direct DC load), and then returning them to the other side of the solar cell to start the process all over again. The voltage output from a single crystalline solar cell is about 0.5V with an amperage output that is directly proportional to the cell’s surface area (approximately 7A for a 6 inch square multi-crystalline solar cell).Typically 30-36 cells are wired in series (+ to -) in each solar module. This produces a solar module with a 12V nominal output (~17V at peak power) that can then be wired in series and/or parallel with other solar modules to form a complete solar array.

 

19. What is the Standard Offer Program – RESOP?

The Standard Offer Program also known as RESOP made it easier for homeowners to participate in meeting Ontario's renewable electricity supply needs by supplying solar energy through their local utility company and being paid a fair price for the power they provide. The program no longer active, the intent of the program is to help Ontario meet its renewable energy supply targets and greenhouse gas emission reductions, by providing a standard pricing regime and simplified eligibility for renewable energy electricity generating projects. Solar electric generators will be paid an attractive fixed price of C$42.0 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the full 20-year term of the contract. As a leading Solar Energy Provider, Rumble Energy offers turnkey solar electric packages and customized solar energy solutions for residential, commercial, agricultural, community-based groups, and industrial clients to participate under the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program.

 

20. What is a utility-connected solar system?

This is often referred to as Grid-Tie or Direct Grid-Tie or Grid - Connected Solar. These type of solar systems are the most economical and most efficient solar electric generation system that does not require any batteries to operate. Under the Ontario feed-in tariff program these systems are directly connected to the Local Distribution Grid under strict requirements and with the proper certifications for the equipment.

 

21. What is a solar electric system or photovoltaics?

Solar, solar system, solar electric system, Photovoltaic's, or PV are all synonyms. Solar systems designed by Rumble Energy consist of different components such as modules, racking, inverter and more in order to convert light in usable energy.

Note: the solar electric systems are different from solar thermal systems that collect and convert light into heat by means of a solar collector.

 

22. What is a solar module?

A solar module is often referred to as solar panel. They consist of multiple solar cells that convert light into electricity.

 

23. What is a solar cell?

A solar cell is the active component within a solar module. They are connected in multiple strings in order to produce the right amount of energy that corresponds with the technical specifications. Standard cell configurations are 36, 60, 48 and 72. They are often made from mono-crystalline silicon or poly-crystalline silicon.

 

24. What is an inverter?

An inverter sometime referred to as a utility-inverter or grid-tie inverter is a device that very efficiently converts direct current or DC from solar modules to alternating current or AC grid-compatible power.

 

25. Are solar parks safe?

Solar electrical equipment does not generate noise, vibration, air or water-borne pollutants.  The materials that make up the solar panels are not hazardous and the panels not include moving parts. It represents an extremely benign method of producing electricity, that easily co-exists with neighbouring land uses.  From Germany to Australia, solar parks have been set up and the fields of solar panels continue to be grazed by sheep.  The sheep are well-fed and the vegetation between the panels is kept in check. 

 

26. How will a solar facility effect stray voltage on my farm?

Every farmer has a legitimate concern about stray voltage.  Many animals have gotten sick as a result of stray voltages.  Stray voltage is caused by load generated neutral currents on the customer distribution system.  Solar parks do not have a neutral conductor and do not generate any neutral currents.  Solar power generation does not contribute to the stray voltage problem.