There’s no doubt about it: power generation using solar panels is booming worldwide.
Québec is no exception: the number of companies promoting solar power is rising steadily. But while solar panels are becoming more and more affordable, how do they really stack up when it comes to the environment? Are they a cost-effective option in Québec? And if you’re thinking about solar power, where do you start? Here’s the information you need to make an informed decision.
The Office de la protection du consommateur has received a high number of complaints about misleading or fraudulent practices of companies selling or installing solar panels.
Hydro-Québec is not associated with any solar panel sales, distribution, manufacturing or installation companies and is not responsible for the installation or maintenance of this equipment.
We suggest that you refer to unbiased sources of information recognized in the solar power industry before you sign a contract. There are several organizations that can provide helpful information, such as the Office de la protection du consommateur, which can tell you if it has had any history with a given company, and the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, which can tell you if the company has the required licences.
Photovoltaic solar power
Photovoltaic solar power is energy from sunlight, collected and converted directly into electricity by photovoltaic solar panels.
Since solar power generation is intermittent, you will have to use energy storage systems or remain connected to the Hydro-Québec grid, using the net metering option to ensure your power supply is uninterrupted.
The potential of solar power in Québec
When it comes to equivalent sun hours, southern Québec compares favorably to many other regions around the globe. However, snow accumulation is an impediment to solar panel efficiency in Québec.
In southern Québec, every kilowatt of installed capacity can generate up to 1,200 kWh a year. Consequently, solar panels totaling 4 kW can produce up to 4,800 kWh a year.
Solar power production per year
Number of equivalent sun hours per year for a fixed system (kWh/kW)
- Southern Québec: 1,200
- Southern California: 1,800
- Sahara Desert and Saudi Arabia: 1,900
- Atacama Desert in Chile: 2,300
Global Solar Atlas
The number of hours that photovoltaic panels produce solar energy every year is not equal to the number of hours of daylight. If a salesperson tells you that your solar panels will produce at full capacity from sunrise until sunset, that is, the equivalent of the “solar cycle,” beware!