Solar energy is a clean and renewable power source that is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. As the cost of solar panels continues to decline and the efficiency of solar technology improves, many homeowners and businesses are turning to solar energy to reduce their carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills. In Ontario, one option for accessing solar energy in Canada is leasing solar panels.
We will explore the benefits of leasing solar panels in Ontario and examine some statistics and studies from government sources.
What is Leasing Solar Panels?
Leasing a solar energy system entails a homeowner or business owner agreeing with a solar company to rent a solar system for a predetermined period. The solar company will install the solar panels on the property, and the homeowner or business owner will make regular payments for using the solar system.
The solar company is responsible for the upkeep and repair of solar panels, while the homeowner or business owner reaps the benefits of the electricity generated by the system. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, leasing a solar system is a popular option for homeowners and business owners who want to invest in solar energy but do not have the financial resources to purchase a solar system outright.
Benefits of Leasing Solar Panels in Ontario
Leasing solar panels in Ontario has become an increasingly popular option for homeowners and business owners interested in reducing their carbon footprint and saving money on electricity bills. Here are some of the primary benefits of leasing solar panels in Ontario.
Leasing solar panels offers significant cost savings, as homeowners and business owners can generate their electricity and reduce their monthly bills. The average residential electricity bill in Ontario was $129.91 per month in 2020, according to the Ontario Energy Board. Property owners can save money and generate more electricity than they consume by leasing solar panels. It can lead to even more savings. The Canadian Renewable Energy Association promotes solar financing and leasing as part of its efforts to increase renewable electricity usage across Canada.
Increased Property Value
Leasing solar panels can increase property value, making it an attractive option for homeowners and business owners. According to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, homes with solar panel systems sell for more than those without. It can be beneficial for property owners who plan to sell their homes in the future. Additionally, leasing solar panels can make a home or business more appealing to potential buyers as it demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. Property owners can also protect themselves from future electricity cost increases by entering into a solar lease or power purchase agreement.
Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Leasing solar panels can also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Canadian government identifies the electricity sector as one of the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. By generating electricity from solar panels, homeowners and business owners can reduce their reliance on electricity generated from fossil fuels and help mitigate climate change.
The Pembina Institute estimates that a solar energy program in Ontario could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.6 million tonnes yearly by 2030. Additionally, third-party ownership arrangements such as power purchase agreements can enable property owners to access the benefits of solar energy without upfront costs or ongoing electricity costs.
Government Incentives and Programs
The Ontario government has set a goal to increase the province’s renewable energy capacity. Several programs and incentives are available to encourage the adoption of solar energy. For example, the microFIT program offers homeowners and business owners an opportunity to sell excess electricity generated by their solar panels back to the grid at a premium price. In addition, the Net Metering program allows homeowners and business owners to receive credit on their electricity bills for excess electricity generated by their solar panels. These programs and incentives make it easier and more affordable for homeowners and business owners to lease solar panels and contribute to Ontario’s renewable energy goals.
Job Creation and Economic Benefits
Leasing solar panels in Ontario can have positive economic impacts, including job creation and tax benefits. Clean Energy Canada estimates the renewable energy sector could create over 16,000 jobs and contribute over $2 billion to Ontario’s economy by 2025. The installation of solar panels requires skilled labor, which can create job opportunities for tradespeople. In addition, some municipalities provide property tax incentives for solar systems. Property owners can reduce their reliance on electricity retailers, keeping more money in the local economy by generating their electricity.
Government Statistics on Solar Energy in Ontario
The Ontario government has set a goal to increase the province’s renewable energy capacity to 50% by 2030. As part of this goal, the government has implemented several programs and incentives to encourage the adoption of solar energy in Ontario.
One of these programs is the Net Metering Program, which allows homeowners and businesses with solar panel systems to sell excess electricity back to the grid. According to the Ontario Energy Board, the number of customers participating in the Net Metering Program increased from 966 in 2010 to 17,278 in 2019. It represents a significant increase in the adoption of solar energy in Ontario.
Another program the Ontario government implement is the Green Ontario Fund, which provides rebates and incentives for homeowners and businesses who install energy-efficient products, including solar panel systems. According to the Ontario government, the Green Ontario Fund provided over $420 million in incentives to homeowners and businesses between 2017 and 2018.
Studies on the Effectiveness of Solar Energy in Ontario
Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of solar energy in Ontario. One study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that solar energy systems in Ontario can generate electricity at a lower cost than the average retail electricity price. It indicates that solar energy is a cost-effective option for homeowners and businesses in Ontario.
Another study by Canadian Solar Industries Association found that adopting solar energy in Ontario can create significant economic benefits, including job creation and increased economic activity. The study estimated that adopting solar energy in Ontario could create over 16,000 jobs and contribute over $2 billion to the provincial economy by 2025.
A third study by the Pembina Institute found that implementing a solar energy program in Ontario could lead to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The study estimated that a solar energy program could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario by 2.6 million tonnes per year by 2030.
Challenges of Leasing Solar Panels in Ontario
Leasing solar panels in Ontario also has its challenges. One of its difficulties is the high upfront installation cost, which may deter homeowners and business owners from leasing. However, solar financing options available help manage the cost of installation. Another challenge is the availability of space for solar panel installation, which requires a suitable location that receives sufficient sunlight.
The removal of trees or other obstacles may be necessary. Moreover, the uncertainty surrounding the future of solar energy in Ontario, especially with the cancellation of government programs and incentives like the Green Ontario Fund, makes it challenging for homeowners and business owners to make long-term commitments to solar energy. Additionally, there may be implications on property tax bills due to the installation of solar panels and the involvement of solar companies.
Leasing solar panels in Ontario is an attractive option for homeowners and business owners interested in reducing their carbon footprint and saving money on electricity bills. The benefits of leasing solar panels include cost savings, increased property value, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The Ontario government has set a goal to increase the province’s renewable energy capacity, and there are several programs and incentives available to encourage the adoption of solar energy. While there are challenges to consider, such as the upfront cost of installation and the availability of space for solar panel installation, the benefits of leasing solar panels make it a promising option for the future of energy in Ontario.