Source: Unsplash

The City of Edmonton’s new strategy to spur the adoption of solar panels by homeowners is to highlight that it’s one of the sunniest cities in the world. 

Edmonton has introduced a new rebate available to multi-unit residential property owners of apartments, townhouses, and condominiums. Eligible properties with four or more units can receive up to $4,000 per dwelling and a maximum of $100,000 in total rebates for solar panels per year. 

The rebate provides owners $0.50 per watt towards the cost of the system, with a total of $1.3 million up for grabs. The last time the city implemented this rebate, $1.96 million was available, and all the available funding was distributed within six weeks. Applications for this new funding open Tuesday and close Dec. 16, though the spots may fill earlier.

The City of Edmonton released a three-minute video explaining to residents how to get solar panels on their homes stressing the point that Edmonton was the “sunniest place in the world.”

“Alberta is statistically one of the sunniest places in the world. If only we had the numbers to back that up,” said the city, without citing any specific data.

Past research suggests otherwise. An archived page compiling Canada’s data showed Calgary as the fourth sunniest city in Canada, with Edmonton trailing in 12th place in 2012. Various other sources have noted that Calgary, Edmonton, and other Albertan municipalities are Canada’s most sunny cities.

However, while Wikipedia has Edmonton and Calgary among Canada’s top three sunniest cities based on hours of sun per year, alongside Winnipeg, they are eclipsed by over 50 American cities.

The city confirmed that it gets around 2,300 hours of sun per year. Solar panels can supply anywhere from a few percent to 100% of a building’s electricity depending on conditions.

Alberta’s grid data previously showed that wind and solar power production in Alberta is at sometimes less than 1% of their total energy capacity.

According to the City of Edmonton, electricity accounts for 16% of the energy used in the city but produces 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions. Residential buildings are responsible for 20% of Edmonton’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

“By replacing traditional energy generation with solar generation, we lower the need for more carbon-intensive energy generation,” said city officials. 

The Change Homes for Climate Solar Program has reduced 142.1 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per home as of June 20, 2019, equivalent to removing 50,000 cars from the road for a year, according to the city.

The City of Edmonton said the average solar system costs $2.50 per watt to install, averaging nearly $19,000 before incentives. 

“The average Alberta home would require about a 6,000-watt system to go to ‘net-zero electricity,’” said the city.

For a system costing $17,500 (7,000 watts), a person would save $3,500 with the rebates for a final cost of $14,000. For a 6,000-watt system, someone would save $3,000 for a final price of $12,000.

While solar systems generate electricity for Edmontonians’ homes, they can also feed excess energy back into the grid, giving homeowners credits on their bills for energy generation.

The city said that more people switching to solar panels will help with grid stability.

Saskatchewan had to save Alberta from rolling brownouts during extreme cold last year. During that time, wind and solar were only able to supply 32MW, or 0.29%, of the power being consumed by Alberta.

However, the neighbouring province couldn’t save Alberta every time, as rolling brownouts occurred in April.

Solar installations in Edmonton have been surging. In 2023, the city saw 2,074 people install solar systems, up from 856 the year prior and 522 in 2021. As of May 2024, Edmonton has seen 1,346 solar installations, on pace to reach 3,230 installations this year.

As of May 2024, the total solar power supplied to the grid was 3,808,170 kWh, an all-time high, surpassing the previous record set in May 2023.