Solar Power Manitoba (2021 Guide)
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for installing solar power in Manitoba!
Published by Rylan Urban on Feb 15, 2018. Last updated May 1, 2021.
Manitoba is currently ranked the #8 province in the country for installing a solar power system, scoring as one of the best provinces for sunlight levels, installations costs, and financing options.
This page contains all relevant information about installing solar in Manitoba including utility policies, system financing, solar incentives, and natural factors – updated as of May 1st, 2021.
The guide begins by answering the two most common questions about solar systems, then it explores each solar ranking factor.
You can read from top to bottom, or skip to your preferred section by clicking on it below:
Common Solar Questions
When thinking about solar power, the first two questions that often come to a person’s mind are:
- “How big does my system need to be?”
- “How much will it cost?”
You can answer these questions in three basic steps:
1. Sizing Your System
To determine the size of system that you need, you only need to know how much energy you use during the course of a year. Your monthly Manitoba Hydro Bill will show your usage (in kWh) similar to the photo below:
You can calculate your annual energy by adding up the amount shown for 12 consecutive months. Don’t make the mistake of multiplying a single month by 12 – usage fluctuates greatly depending on the season.
You can calculate the size of the solar power system that you’ll need with the following equation:
Size of system needed (kW) = yearly energy use (kWh) / annual equivalent full sunlight hours (h)
(annual average ‘equivalent full sunlight hours’ in Manitoba = 1,272h)
For example, let’s pretend that you added up your power bills and determined that you use 10,000kWh over the course of a year. You would then do the above calculation and determine that you need a 7.86kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 1,272h = 7.86kW
2. Physical Sizing
Now that you know the size of your system in units of kW, you can determine how much space the system will require by converting it to units of sqft.
The average solar panel is approximately 18sqft in size (including some buffer room for racking and spacing) and produces about 300watts of power.
The equation to calculate the space that your solar system require is again simple:
Physical space required = size of system needed (in kW) / size of panel (in kW) * physical size of panel (in sqft)
(average size of panel = 0.3kW, average physical panel size = 18sqft)
Let’s continue from the previous section and assume that you need a 7.86kW system. You would do the above calculation and determine that you need 472sqft of space to install your system!
7.86kW / 0.3kW * 18sqft = 472sqft
(note that 300watts equals 0.3kW)
If you’re putting solar panels on your roof, you should know that:
- A south facing roof is best, east and west facing are good, but north is not great
- You may need to replace your shingles (or entire roof) before installing – because panels are guaranteed for 25 years!
If you’re putting solar panels on the ground, you should know that:
- These systems are more expensive upfront due to piling, mounting , and trenching requirements
- They are more efficiency because they can be easily placed to the optimal direction (south), the optimal angle (~45°), and to avoid shading
- Thus, these systems are more efficient and have better lifetime IRRs and NPVs.
Most residential homeowners in Manitoba put solar panels on their roof. Rural property owners put systems on the roof of their house or shop – or on the ground in their yard.
3. System Costs
The last piece of basic information that you’ll want to know is an approximation of how much your system will cost. To calculate this, you just need to know the size of the system in units of kW.
The rough calculation is simple. Just take the size of your system and multiply it by the $2.76/watt – the average cost of installing a solar system in Manitoba.
You can calculate your total system costs with the following equation:
System cost = size of system needed x cost per installed watt
Continuing with our previous example, we can see that a 7.86kW system would cost approximately $21,694 to install.
= 7,860watts x $2.76/watt
Note that the exact price of the system depends on several factors including the system size, the quality of equipment used, and the complexity of the job.
Even the range in the chart above is just an average – installation prices can easily go as high as $3.25+/watt for premium equipment and high quality installers.
Ready to get started?
Every year, we score every province and territory in Canada on the relative feasibility of installing a solar power system. This year, Manitoba scores #8, receiving a total score of 59/100.
The remainder of this guide explores each ranking factor individually, while also providing important information about installing solar in Manitoba.
(if you want to learn how we score each factor, please visit our Provincial Solar Rankings page)
Major Program: Expired, Pending
Manitoba does not currently have any solar incentive programs, however, Efficiency Manitoba has previously announced they will have a permanent solar panel rebate program in place by 2022.
These factors are important because they reduce the upfront system costs. We’ve scored Manitoba 0/20 for this section.
Rebates & Tax Breaks
Unfortunately, the Manitoba Hydro Solar Rebate Program came to an end in 2018, putting an end to the $1.00/Watt cash rebate.
Businesses can now use the Federal Tax Provision for Clean Energy Equipment to fully expense their solar system. This means a CCA rate of 100% and the abolishment of the first year rule.
Other Clean Energy Incentives
There are at least 5 other energy incentive programs available in Manitoba. While not considered in our solar rankings, many homeowners choose to leverage these (i.e., home energy efficiency incentives) around the same time they switch to solar.
Production Potential: 1272kWh per kW per year
Manitoba is one of the best provinces in terms of the natural factors that influence the maximal amount of energy that a system can produce. We’ve scored Manitoba 19/20 for this section.
Manitoba has the third-highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving more solar irradiation than any other province or territory other than Saskatchewan and Alberta!
According to data from Natural Resources Canada, the average solar system in Manitoba can produce 1272kWh of electricity per kW of solar panels per year.
Here is how much an average solar system can produce each month, as well as the solar irradiance potential map for Manitoba:
This yearly average decreases as you move north and east in the province and increases as you move south and west. For example, a 1kW solar system in:
- Winnipeg would produce about 1,281 kWh/yr
- St. Claude would produce about 1,309 kWh/yr
- Brandon would produce about 1,341 kWh/yr
- Selkirk would produce about 1,267 kWh/yr
- Dauphin would produce about 1,303 kWh/yr
- The Pas would produce 1,202 kWh/yr
Recall that this is the number we used in the System Sizing section!
(maps and solar irradiance data for all other provinces and territories can be found on our Solar Maps page.)
Connection Policy: Net Billing
Rate Design: $0.10/kWh, Flat
Manitoba scores last when it comes to utility-related factors.
Utility factors determine how much money your utility will pay you for the power you produce, along with how much money you will save on your power bill by reducing your usage. We’ve scored Manitoba 18/30 for this section.
Net Metering is one of the most important policy mechanisms that makes solar a feasible energy generation option.
Net Metering essentially means that you earn credits for the excess energy that you produce, which can then be used at a later time. It’s common to produce excess energy during the day and summer but not enough at night and during the winter – so this policy is important!
Good net metering policy allows you to earn full credits for your excess energy which can be carried month-to-month. Bad net metering policy allows you to earn only partial credits for excess energy and credits can’t be carried forward month-to-month.
Manitoba Hydro’s Electricity Generation Policies falls in the “bad” category. Instead of generating credits for the energy that you produce, you are simply compensated for it.
However, you will get paid just $0.02403 for the excess energy you produce, roughly 1/3 of the retail electricity rate!
Solar Setup Fees
Connecting your system to the grid is another hurdle that Manitoba Hydro currently makes you pay for – this means paying ~$1,000 for an interconnection study and a bi-directional when you switch to solar power.
This is opposed to many provinces like British Columbia and Prince Edward Island where the costs of such things are free.
Manitoba enjoys some of the lowest electricity prices in the country – but lower prices mean lower savings potential when you switch to solar.
Based on a monthly usage of 1,000kWh, the average total cost of electricity in Manitoba is $0.099/kWh (this number includes both fixed and variable costs).
This number is higher than the Canadian average of $0.138/kWh (excluding the territories), meaning that property owners in Manitoba have moderate to low savings potential!
(methodology and data on other provinces and territories can be found on our Electricity Prices page.)
Utility Bill Rate Design
Good electricity rate design allows you to save money when you save energy. This might sound intuitive – but not all provinces are same. Superior designs have low fixed monthly fees and tiered electricity rates. Inferior designs have high fixed fees and flat electricity rates.
Manitoba scores in the middle of the pack when it comes to these factors – having flat rates and fixed monthly fees of $9.
For example, reducing your electricity bill from 1,500 to 750 kWh per month will save you 54% on your electricity bill in British Columbia, 47% in Manitoba, but only 41% in Alberta!
Note that fixed monthly fees don’t disappear even if you switch to solar – you’ll pay them as long as you remain connected to the grid. But this isn’t a bad thing – $9/mo is a small price to pay for using the grid as your back-up energy source!
(methodology on our Electricity Prices page.)
The only way to completely remove your fixed costs is to go off the grid, something most homeowners in Manitoba don’t do because of high battery costs.
Disconnecting from the grid also means that you won’t be able to participate in your utility’s net metering program.
Upfront Cost: $2.76/watt
Manitoba is one of the best provinces in the country when it comes to financial factors because of low up-front costs and on-bill financing options. We’ve scored Manitoba 22/30 for this section.
Cost of Installation
The upfront cost of installation is obviously one of the largest factors that determine whether or not a person is going to switch to solar. The current average price range in Manitoba is about $2.63-$2.90/kW.
(not sure what this number means or how to use it? Jump back up to the Common Questions section.)
However, the price can easily be higher or lower depending on the size of the system, the complexity of the job, the type of equipment used, and even on the quality of your installation company.
In general, aiming for the cheapest price shouldn’t be your goal. Most solar panels are guaranteed to last for 25 years, so you want to make sure that your installation job is good enough to support that.
You’ll also want to be sure that the company you choose will be around in 5 to 10 years from now in case you need service or warranty work done. If you get a quote through us, we’ll connect you with a pre-vetted installer!
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is an innovative financing option that allows you to cover the entire upfront cost of your solar system (or energy efficiency upgrades) with a $0 down, long amortization period, low interest ‘loan’.
However, unlike a typical loan, this loan is attached to your property (not you) and is paid back on your property tax bill as a Local Improvement Charge (LIC). The only eligibility is that you need to own a certain portion of your home.
Unfortunately, no PACE financing is currently available in Manitoba. However, the Home Energy Efficiency Loan is a similar, on-bill financing program, that you can use to pay back your solar system through your utility bill.
Other Energy Financing
Obviously though, PACE is not the only way to finance a solar system. Systems can be financed by cash, bank loans, installer financing, home equity loans, a home equity line of credit, a mortgage (for new builds), or through energy loans.
Other options available for Manitoba homeowners:
- RBC Energy Saver Loan (energy loan)
- Up to 10 years amortization
- RBC contact number: 1-800-769-2511
Solar Power Manitoba
Because of Manitoba’s high sunlight levels, low installation costs, but lack of incentives – we rank it as the #9 best province in the country for switching to solar power.
Ready to get started?