October 26, 2021

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As green energy evolves, demand for solar installations surges across Canada

A visit to see what Vancouver Island’s T’Sou-ke Nation has done in the way of solar power installations in reservation buildings…
Source – Vancouver Island, US Embassy Canada. Public Domain

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.

In July this year, a new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that 62 percent of renewable energy capacity that came online last year cost less to install than the cheapest fossil fuel option. 

That drastic fall in both installation and operating costs bodes well for the fight against climate change, IRENA’s director-general, Francesco La Camera, said in a release from the group.

Added to the good news from IRENA, data from the Canadian Renewable Energy Association shows that commercial and residential solar generation has grown from just a few megawatts a decade ago, capable of powering a few hundred homes, to over one gigawatt in 2020, supplying enough electricity for the equivalent of more than 100,000 homes.

Gall told CBC Canada that he doesn’t think “there are more than maybe 40,000 solar rooftops in all of Canada,” but right now, he said, installers have never been busier.

Photo courtesy Idahome Solar
Photo courtesy Idahome Solar / Thomas Herd

And this boon in solar innovation and installations has been helpful to oil and gas workers laid off due to changing global attitudes over fossil fuels. The number of layoffs has reached the point that industry groups now say oil and gas workers are searching for jobs in more stable sectors.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced in May, has created a real demand for residential solar panels. The grant promises homeowners up to $5,000 for systems that qualify after an energy audit. 

The grant has become so popular that it has created a shortage of auditors in some parts of the country, as close to 100,000 applications have come in so far, according to Natural Resources Canada.

And as the demand for solar installations has increased, so has the need for workers in this sector. The “green sector” may eventually surpass the fossil fuel sector in terms of the number of jobs, efforts to decarbonize the economy are only just starting. 

Not only are workers needed to do installations, but an entire supply chain has been created, and is growing across the country that includes companies manufacturing solar panels, businesses that sell them, and companies that do installations.

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