The Reality of Solar Energy in Winter
Do solar panels work during the winter? Yes, they do. Each panel functions more efficiently in cold weather than it does during warm weather. Although days are shorter in winter and there's less available sunlight, solar panels can work during winter. With added storage, they can be an effective clean energy power sources for businesses, residential homes, and community/government organizations.
You can also combine solar power with energy efficiency improvements to improve your overall energy efficiency. NB Power recommends combining both active solar panels (photovoltaic arrays) with passive solar energy use. Passive solar includes using natural light to heat your home. Did you know that if you allow light through your south and west-facing windows in winter, you can significantly warm your home without additional use of electricity?
Five Myths about Solar Power in the Winter
1) Solar panels don't work in the winter
Solar panels do work in the winter, and they're even more efficient at colder temperatures. Solar panels need light, not heat. As long as you receive some sun during the winter, solar panels will generate power during every hour they're exposed to sunlight.
2) Solar panels don't make sense in colder climates
If this was true, Germany wouldn't be the world leader in solar installations. Germany produced 7 percent of its national electricity through solar power by the end of 2014. Germany now receives more than 50 percent of its electricity from solar on peak summer use days. Germany's climate is colder on average than most Canadian provinces, and it averages 30 percent more snow during the winter than all except Arctic Canada.
3) Snow will ruin solar panels
The snow that's near solar panels may improve performance because it reflects light. This is called the "albedo effect." Solar panels should be kept snow-free because if they're completely covered, they can't operate properly. NB Power advises that if you do have snow on your solar panels, you should only clean them with soft materials. A hard metal rake could damage the photovoltaic material. Most solar panels are sturdy and won't be damaged even by a dense layer of snow, as long as it's removed with care.
4) Solar power can't be stored
Solar energy can be stored. Solar battery systems and solar-plus systems can save power for use at night and on cloudy days. Solar batteries are increasing rapidly in efficiency, ease of use, and storage capacity. Larger solar battery systems may allow the average home to power itself for an entire day before recharging. Several solar batteries that are currently available can run a home's power overnight without needing to be recharged until the next day.
5) Solar power's costs outweigh its benefits
Surveys of multiple governments and business solar installations in colder locations in the U.S. and Canada show that on a project by project basis, solar's benefits outweigh the costs of installing a solar system. When environmental and sustainability benefits are factored in, the cost-benefit ratio improves more. When considering solar, environmental benefits should be counted as well as purely financial benefits. When you combine other energy savings initiatives such as energy retrofitting and solar power, the financial and ecological benefits increase even more.
Energy storage is important
If you're going to install solar in New Brunswick, you'll want to use a solar battery system. The battery enables you to store power for use at night or during days when there is insufficient sun to produce electricity from the solar cells. You can take advantage of NB Power's net metering program. Net metering allows you to draw power from the grid when needed. At times when your solar system is producing more energy than you need, you can charge your solar system battery. If any additional power is not required, you can return it to the electrical grid. This approach combines the benefits of net metering with a solar system battery/battery storage.
Investing in Solar Power in New Brunswick
Naveco Power can model the financial feasibility of solar projects. Naveco Power is proactively developing interest and knowledge about solar energy in New Brunswick. For example, a recreation centre could install a solar project that could reduce or even eliminate its use of energy from the traditional NB Power grid. Financing can include investment opportunities at the same time as power savings repay the initial investment.
You can invest in New Brunswick's clean energy future and be a part of new clean power generation. Yes, solar power can work in the winter. Solar batteries extend its usefulness, and net metering can reduce, and in some cases, eliminate power bills.
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