Frequently Asked Questions 

Q: Is it too cold in Alberta for Solar PV?
A: Solar PV performance is only dependent on the light from the sun, cold temperatures do not reduce solar PV performance in fact the cold increases their output.

Q: Isn’t there too much snow in Alberta for solar PV?
A: As much of the system production happens over the summer due to the long sun-hours and winter having such short sun-hours, energy production losses for solar PV due to snow are less than 10% on most roof angles

Q: Do I need batteries for my solar PV system?
A: No, batteries are not required for a grid connected system.  Batteries are mainly used in off-grid solar PV applications.  A battery backup system is optional for grid connected solar PV systems. 

Q: I’m not at home during the day when the sun is shining.  What happens to all that energy?
A: A grid connected solar PV system sends the energy back on to the grid.  The electric utility measures the amount of energy you send to the grid and this is credited from your monthly power bill. 

Q: What happens when there is a blackout?
A: Solar PV equipment is designed to prevent power from going back onto the grid during a blackout to protect electrical workers from being electrocuted while the work on bringing the power back on. This means that your solar PV system will be shut off until the power comes back on.   There are design options and equipment that can avoid this issue so that a solar PV system owner can still have power during a blackout.

Q: I don’t have south sloping roof, can I still get a solar PV system?
A: Yes, if you’re solar PV system is oriented 45° from south the maximum decrease in performance will be ~10%

Q: Does solar PV work in Alberta?
A: Yes, Alberta has the highest amount of annual sunshine in Canada.  Alberta has a greater solar resource than Germany, often cited for their successful large scale deployment of solar PV.

""As a new program exploring alternative energies we realized quickly that a solar photovoltaic teaching array would be an absolute must......After a number of concept changes and a failed attempt at installation it was decided, based on the recommendations of industry insiders, that Great Canadian Solar would take the lead on the project. We haven’t looked back since....They have proven themselves to not only be master technicians but excellent role models for our students. Many thanks to the team at GCS.""

- Tim Matthews, Laboratory Technologist - Alternative Energy Program NAIT