Calgary solar industry looking for big year

The Alberta NDP government says it’s moving away from coal towards renewable sources, with a target of 30 per cent by 2030 and some in the Calgary solar energy community are all smiles, but they say there is still work to be done.

Goal of 30% renewables by 2030 give proponents hope

Solar power isn't as difficult as you might think 0:55

Alberta's NDP government says it's moving away from coal towards renewable sources, with a target of 30 per cent by 2030 and some in the Calgary solar energy community are all smiles, but they say there is still work to be done.

Sano Stante added solar panels to his Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill home in October.

It costs about $14,000 to add a solar energy system to an average home. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

The Calgary based realtor says there are huge benefits to letting the sun shine in.

"I just feel that it's the responsible thing to do," Stante said.

Sano Stante expects that in 15 years, the cost of converting his home to solar will have paid for itself. (CBC)

"Aside from the fact that it's a return on your investment."

He says the goal is net zero status.

"We have a bidirectional meter, which means our meter runs both ways and on a nice sunny day, if I want to feel good, I'll go out and watch my meter run backwards. At the end of the year, there's a reconciliation and I haven't reached that point yet, but hopefully it'll be net zero."

Stante's 4,200 square foot home is larger than average so the cost to convert to solar, $38,000, is a fair bit higher than a typical home.

He estimates the panels will pay for themselves within 15 years.

Sano Stante hopes his solar energy home will be net zero within about a year. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Stante says any excess power can be sold back to Enmax at market rates.

But according to the owner of a solar installation company, that's not enough.

Richard Wilton of Momentum Solar says consumers who generate their own power are not being paid enough by electrical utility.

Richard Wilton of Momentum Solar says consumers who generate their own power are not being paid enough by the electrical utility. (CBC)

"Incentivize the power that's coming out into the grid," Wilton said.

"Make it valuable, like it is. It's renewable energy. Zero emission technology, that should be treated as such."

Wilton says people who generate their own renewable energy should be paid 40 cents per kilowatt hour, about six times what they're getting currently.

He says that would encourage more property owners to convert to solar, and the timing is right because costs have dropped dramatically in recent years.

"I would say on average a residential system is running about $13,000 or $14,000," Wilton said.

"It's getting more popular. The technology is far more accessible … there's a lot more people. You see it around," he said.

With files from Andrew Brown

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