Grid-Tie in Alberta

How a Grid-Tie Solar Power System Works

Grid-tie solar systems work by taking the electricity produced by the solar system and routing it directly to the utility grid. This setup allows us to:

  • Consume the power produced by the solar system when the system is producing electricity and the utility grid is functional
  • Purchase electricity from the grid when the sun is not shining
  • Sell excess solar power to the grid and receive a credit for exporting power, this is also known as net metering

While grid-tie solar systems with net-metering are the most cost effective way to produce and consume your own solar electricity, they do have the disadvantage of not being able to operate during a power outage. Adding a battery backup system adds cost but means that when the power goes out you will still have power to your home.

Benefits of Grid-Tie Photovoltaic Systems

  • Financially Viable – Grid-tie installations at un-shaded sites yield positive returns on investment while having minimum risk
  • Environmentally Friendly – Electricity from solar PV modules produce no carbon emissions or air pollutants, grid-tie systems require no batteries, and every solar installation helps add a bit more renewable energy to Alberta’s electric grid
  • Produces Power at End User – Producing the power where it is needed reduces power line losses and requires less distribution and transmission infrastructure to be built
  • Protects Against Power Price Fluctuations – As the credit received for exporting electricity to the grid is the current retail price, any credit that is accumulated will help protect against rising power prices.
  • Energy Efficient – Solar systems generally help to improve energy efficiency by putting electricity generation and consumption in the owner’s hands
  • Simple Maintenance and Operation – There is minimal need for maintenance

Shortfalls of Grid-Tie Photovoltaic Systems

  • Grid-tie systems without a battery bank, use the grid and its infrastructure to store excess energy and buy electricity when needed. The cost of this infrastructure is reflected in the higher power prices for purchased electricity, compared to the credit received for exported energy.
  • Most grid-tie systems deliver no power when there is a power outage.

Interested? What’s Next

There a few stages involved in most solar power installations.

Initial Consultation: Give a call or send us an email to discuss your site, and your needs. We can then schedule a visit to your property to do a site visit.

Feasibility Study: After the site visit has been booked a member of the Dandelion Renewables team will go to your site and will then be able to conduct a feasibility study which will find areas for reduction in natural gas and electricity consumption, as well as assessing the suitability and payback of a solar system.

Contract Signing and Permitting Work: Once the feasibility study has been completed and you are able to make a thoroughly informed choice, if you decide to move forward the next step is meeting to sign a contract and discuss the deliverables. Once the contract has been signed Dandelion Renewables will begin the permitting process.

Installation: After Dandelion Renewables has secured all the permits equipment will be ordered and you will be contacted to arrange the installation time. Dandelion Renewables professionally installs and commissions our systems to the highest level of quality while remaining cost effective.

Maintenance: Dandelion Renewables offers an additional comprehensive maintenance package as well as a standard lifetime warranty on our work to provide piece of mind and ensure that the system

Regulations in Alberta

The Alberta Micro Generation Regulation, which simplifies the grid connection process for micro-generators, came into effect on January 1, 2009. The regulation allows offsetting the site energy consumption with the energy generated on site. A bi-directional meter measures both imported and exported energy. Energy retailer nets out the imported and exported energy and bills or issues a credit according to the total net, so called net-billing.

It is important to note that the amount of energy generated “is intended to meet all or a portion of the customer’s electricity needs.” If the purpose of electrical generation is for profit, then it can be connected to the grid using a different distributed generator interconnection process as regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) Rule 007.

Dandelion Renewables manages all aspects of the micro-generation application process.

Incentives for Grid-Tie Solar in Alberta

Alberta Growing Forward 2 Program – On-Farm Energy Management - The Government of Alberta Growing Forward 2 Program has introduced the: On-Farm Energy Management grant for Alberta farms for the 2013 season. This program is designed to cover up to 35% of cost of investments in energy efficiency upgrades, to a maximum of $50,000 in one year, this results in conservation of energy and reduction of carbon emissions.

CCA Class 43.2 - Faster tax depreciation of the capital expenses under CCA Class 43.2 is limited to the net income generated by renewable system. It applies to renewable generation that is build for profit or to offset business operating costs.

GHG Emission Credits - New GHG offset protocol for micro-generation applicants is now reviewed by Alberta Environment. If approved, the micro-generation applicants could receive additional ~1.9 cents per KWh for a specified time period. This protocol would only be viable only for larger scale micro-generation installations.