British Columbia

City of Victoria launches online tool so locals can determine if solar panels a good fit for their homes

The Solar Rooftop Tool can be used to determine the amount of sunshine almost any building in Victoria receives over the course of a year and provides information on how much a solar panel system might cost.

Residents can find out how much sun their home receives and what panels would cost

Workers install solar panels on a roof in Toronto on May 12, 2021. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Residents of the province's capital who are considering installing solar panels on their properties may want to take advantage of a new online tool launched this month by the City of Victoria.

The Solar Rooftop Tool is an online portal where city residents can search their address on a map and find out how much sunshine their home receives annually, information on how much power could be generated by using solar panels, and how much it would cost to install such a system.

The tool also provides details on available rebates and financing options.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant provides funding to homeowners of up to $5,600 for energy efficient home retrofits, including renewable energy systems such as solar panels. 

Steve Young, climate and environmental sustainability specialist for the city, says the cost of solar panels has gone down significantly in recent years and the goal of the new tool is to transition more people away from using fossil fuels to heat and power their homes.

"Solar power is becoming an increasingly realistic option for people," said Young, speaking on CBC's On The Island. "Hopefully it's a conversation starter for those who are interested."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helps to install solar panels on a roof during a campaign stop in Iqaluit, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. According to the Canadian Renewable Energy Association, demand for solar installations is surging across the country. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

According to the city, due to the efficiency of modern solar panels and Victoria's climate, the city receives enough sunlight to generate electricity throughout the year.

"We know that climate change is the challenge of our time and our city continues to be out in front finding solutions that residents can use to make a difference," Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement.

"This tool will help residents who want to blaze a trail in the use of renewables or use their home to generate power," she added.

Demand for solar installations is surging across Canada, according to Nicholas Gall, a director at the Canadian Renewable Energy Association, an industry group that represents 300 companies involved in wind, solar and energy storage.

"We're definitely on the cusp of an era of mass adoption," he said.

His association's data shows that commercial and residential solar generation has grown from just a few megawatts — enough to power a few hundred homes — a decade ago, to more than one gigawatt in 2020, supplying enough electricity for the equivalent of more than 100,000 homes.

In British Columbia, solar panel systems are exempt from provincial sales tax. The average upfront cost of a residential solar system is between $17,500 and $21,000.

For more information on the Solar Rooftop Tool and to check out your home's potential, visit

With files from All Points West and Curt Petrovich


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