Canada solar power generation highly seasonal: NEB

Canada solar power generation is highly seasonal, particularly in the north as the amount of sunlight hours can be radically different between winter and summer.  Getty Images/Bloomberg photo by James MacDonald.

Canada solar power generation more efficient in winter

This article was published by the National Energy Board on Feb. 20, 2019.

In high latitude countries like Canada, the amount of sunlight received by solar panels is highly seasonal. In particular, the further north one lives means more hours of daylight in the spring and summer and fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter.

In a recent report called The Economics of Solar Power in Canada (ESPC), the NEB modelled the amount of electricity various types of solar projects might generate in over 20 000 Canadian communities.

ESPC data shows that solar panels in Canada generate significantly more electricity in the spring and summer than they do in the fall and winter. The territories have bigger seasonal differences than the provinces, because territories are located further north.

More than just hours of daylight, seasonal differences in solar power can also be from seasonal changes in cloudiness, changes in snowfall, or other differences in climate.

However, cooler times of the year do have one advantage over warmer times: panels are more efficient at generating electricity in winter, because cooler temperatures decrease resistance in the electric wiring, meaning more energy is available to convert to electricity.

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