Renewable Energy Inventory

Solar Electricity

Solar photovoltaic panels transform solar radiation into electrical energy using a thin layer of semiconductor-based cells, usually made of silicon, spread on a panel.

Photovoltaic panels operate well at sub-zero temperatures due to lowered resistance in electrical components. In addition, snow reflection increases solar intensity and in northern climates, photovoltaic panels often outperform their rated capacity.

The experience in the territories has demonstrated that photovoltaic technology is reliable when tied into batteries to reduce the amount of fuel used by small gas or diesel fuelled generators. These small hybrid photovoltaic systems are cost effective sources of renewable energy for off-grid camps and residences.

A problem for integrating photovoltaic technology in northern communities is the seasonal availability of the sun. Abundant sunlight in the summer can provide an almost continuous source of electricity that is shortened or non-existent during the cold, dark winter months when electricity demand is highest.

This problem can be addressed by tying a photovoltaic project into an existingelectrical grid, which can diversify the electricity supply and offset diesel power production or allow water to be stored in hydro reservoirs.

Photovoltaic electricity is more expensive per watt to install than conventional diesel or hydroelectric sources. However, prices for photovoltaic technology have been declining in recent years and will continue to fall as global market demand and production capacity increases and research for this technology continues.

Integration of photovoltaic power into community grid systems is being considered in Yukon and the Northwest Territories through pilot projects to gain an understanding of distributed generation issues.

For instance, in Yukon a combined solar heat and power application is operating at the Yukon College in partnership with the Northern Research Institute. All three territories are working to develop policies and pricing for self-generated or non-utility electricity sold back into the grid.

Figure 5
Current and Planned Solar Photovoltaic Projects
Figure 5 shows current and planned photovoltaic capacity in the North.
Note: all graph data is from 2007.

Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision