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New Report Reveals the Potential of Solar Energy for Achieving Net-Zero in Canada

The Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) recently released a game-changing report that underscores the importance of rooftop and on-site solar energy, also known as behind-the-meter (BTM) solar, in helping Canada achieve its net-zero goals. The report, titled "BTM Solar: Canadian Market Outlook: How Behind-the-Meter solar can contribute to Canada’s net-zero future," provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of the industry in Canada and outlines its potential for growth.

CanREA commissioned this independent report to gain insights into the progress and market outlook of BTM Solar in Canada. According to Vittoria Bellissimo, CanREA’s President and CEO, BTM solar plays a crucial role in the country's renewable energy sector and holds immense promise for the future. Canadian homeowners, municipalities, and local businesses are all eager to embrace this affordable clean energy solution, as it contributes significantly to achieving net zero.


The report, prepared by Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors, presents a variety of scenarios to demonstrate the growth potential of BTM solar in Canada. By scaling up rooftop solar installations by 20-40 times, it is estimated that BTM solar could meet 2-4% of Canada's annual electricity demand, delivering 24-48 TWh per year. Currently, BTM solar accounts for only 0.2% of the country's total electricity generation, producing 1.5 TWh annually.


To unlock and leverage the full potential of BTM Solar, stakeholders must take specific actions outlined in the report. The study underlines the numerous benefits of BTM solar adoption for consumers, the economy, and the electricity system as a whole.


"This groundbreaking study is the first of its kind to quantify the potential of BTM solar deployment in Canada and its contribution to net-zero targets," said Ahmed Hanafy, Director at Dunsky Energy + Climate Advisors. "It not only highlights the benefits of BTM solar but also outlines the necessary steps to harness its potential and drive the transition to a net-zero future."


The report evaluates three different scenarios for the future of BTM solar in Canada: a market transformation model, a scenario featuring expanded financial incentives, and a business-as-usual case. However, it emphasizes that under the current policy environment, BTM solar adoption will fall short of the 2-4% target required to achieve net-zero targets by 2050.


The report highlights the need for increased support and incentives to accelerate the adoption of BTM solar in Canada. By capitalizing on this clean and renewable energy source, the country can make significant progress towards its net-zero goals while benefiting consumers, the economy, and the environment.


To achieve a net-zero future and make a significant impact on the fight against climate change, the capacity of BTM (behind-the-meter) solar must be scaled up by 20-40 times by 2050. This would require one in three homes to be equipped with solar power, compared to the current ratio of one in 200 homes.


In pursuit of this ambitious goal, CanREA (Canadian Renewable Energy Association) plans to utilize a comprehensive study to drive further action and advocate for policy measures that will accelerate the adoption of BTM solar across Canada. According to Heuck, a spokesperson for CanREA, it is crucial to refinance the Greener Homes program and ensure a swift rollout of the Clean Technology Investment Tax Credit in the short term. These initiatives will have a positive impact on the expansion of commercial rooftop solar in Canada.


The study highlights that the most effective way to expedite the adoption curve is to revise building codes, mandating the inclusion of solar systems in new single-family homes. This simple adjustment could result in an estimated 13 GW of new capacity, significantly contributing to the overall solar energy generation.


In addition to new installations, retrofitting existing homes in Canada with solar panels could generate an additional 11 GW, while solar systems on commercial buildings could generate another 12 GW. Ultimately, these combined efforts would result in a remarkable growth of 36 GW of BTM solar capacity by 2050.


When analyzing the potential for growth and adoption, the study identifies Ontario as the province with the highest growth potential and the largest market for BTM solar. Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and the rest of Canada follow in order of their growth potential and market size.


By implementing these strategies and undertaking comprehensive actions, Canada can pave the way for a sustainable and renewable energy future, contributing significantly to global efforts to combat climate change.


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