- A CanREA commissioned study for Nova Scotia’s solar market shows the province can make further efforts to promote solar by lowering associated soft costs
- The study counts 45% of total cost of installing a solar power system for a residential setting to come from soft costs
- Bringing down red tape associated with soft costs and reducing barriers to installing solar PV will enable significant uptake of solar in the province, according to the study
To improve affordability and accessibility of solar PV among communities in Canada’s province of Nova Scotia, the focus must be on reducing soft costs that account for 45% of the total cost of installing a residential system, according to a CanREA study.
Prepared by local PV system equipment supplier and consultant HES PV for the Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA), the findings are part of the Nova Scotia Solar-Friendly Communities study that counts 55% of the remaining total cost coming from hardware components for a typical 9.5 kW residential rooftop solar PV system.
Even though the soft costs for solar installation in Nova Scotia are much less than lower than in several places in the US where these can go as high as 65%, the team behind this Nova Scotia government’s Low-Carbon Communities Initiative funded study believes taking care of the soft costs will encourage further adoption of solar power among residents in the province, while also creating more jobs in the sector.
Nova Scotia had 2,451 net metered customers with a total rated generation capacity of 19.8 MW in 2020, representing 733% increase in total nameplate capacity since 2018, and the government estimates see another 1,200 net metered customers by the end of 2021.
“The Solar Friendly Communities study found that there are significant soft costs and red tape associated with installing a residential solar PV system in Nova Scotia,” said Director of Distributed Energy Resources at CanREA, Nicholas Gall adding, “and that reducing these barriers could help increase solar PV uptake and create more jobs in the solar sector.”
Soft costs mainly comprise of business processes and administration around permits, inspections and financing which can be significantly lowered through reducing the costs and barriers to building and electrical permits, and grid interconnection related to solar installations.
Authors of the study also recommend improving solar financing programs by lowering interest rates and longer payback periods, enhancing solar education and awareness among homeowners and municipal staff, as well as through identifying municipal solar PV strategies to achieve the aim. By devising a Solar PV public education strategy, and adopting solar-ready guidelines municipalities can play an important role in promoting increased uptake of solar PV.
One of the recommendations is for local utility Nova Scotia Power to implement an online process for interconnection request and equipment information, while ensuring a single inspection process ‘similar to other jurisdictions across the country’, among other measures suggested.
With the solar PV industry inundated with new products every now and then, building and electrical inspectors must be trained to keep themselves up-to-date with new equipment, the study suggests.
The study can be viewed on CanREA’s website.
Nova Scotia has been making news off and on for its initiatives to encourage solar power adoption. In February 2021, it announced CAD 5.5 million to be offered as rebates to homeowners for installing solar panels. Later in April 2021, it introduced a shared solar program to remove barriers to solar adoption for communities and businesses through amendments to the Electricity Act (see New Shared Solar Program In Canada’s Nova Scotia).