It may be smack dab in the middle of winter for Canadians, but the sun is shining for one solar company.
Solar Brokers Canada announced that they have received just over $1 million in capital from Grenville Strategic. The Toronto-based Solar Brokers is one of Canada’s largest solar sales organizations and redefines how consumers adopt residential solar solutions. Founded in 2012, the company has brokered the sale of over 30 megawatts of solar to homeowners.
Solar energy is still a very new concept for Canadians, as the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) in Ontario reported that less than one per cent of Canada’s energy comes from solar sources.
Many Canadians are still hesitant to adopt the technology as well, something that Solar Brokers hopes to change with the new investment and expansion plans. In a recent Leger poll, 49 per cent of Ontarians do not think switching to Solar is affordable, despite there being several incentives and no-money-down options available.
Still, 62 per cent of Ontario residents think that switching to solar energy can be profitable, and 76 percent of Ontarians believe that they would be more inclined to switch to solar energy if they had monetary support.
Ontario’s microFIT program offered by the IESO looked to do just that by supporting the development and installation of small-scale renewable energy solutions, like rooftop solar panels. Participants are paid a guaranteed price (28.8 cents per kWh) over a 20-year term for electricity they produce back to the grid, which could result in up to $3,600 per year based on an annual solar production of 12,500 kWh.
The microFIT program started in 2009, stopped accepting applications this past December after reaching its goal of 50 megawatts.
The cost of solar panels has dropped 90 per cent since 2000, but many are still hesitant. In the U.S., community solar panels are expected to represent up to half of the solar market by 2020.
Adoption of community solar panels in bigger markets is a bit slower, but there are several success stories of smaller communities paving the way. The T’Sou-ke First Nation aboriginal community from B.C.’s Vancouver Island started building their solar farm in 2009 and now has over 400 rooftop solar panels. At its peak, these can provide 90 per cent of the community’s needed power.
A new utility-scale solar farm in Southeast Alberta will look to power 3,000 homes and is one of the largest projects of its kind in Canada. Projects like this could influence homeowners and lead them to make the jump to local solar sources.
The capital will be used to help Solar Brokers expand across Canada throughout 2018. The money from Grenville is not a typical equity investment but rather an expandable capital facility agreement.