Complete Guide for Solar Power in Nova Scotia 2021
Congratulations! You’ve found the ultimate guide for going solar in Nova Scotia!
Nova Scotia is ranked the #1 province in the country for installing a solar power system, scoring as one of the best provinces for rebates, financing options, and installation costs.
This page contains all relevant information about installing solar in Nova Scotia including utility policies, system financing, solar incentives, and natural factors – updated as of May 1st, 2021.
This guide is sponsored by Solar Ascent, a locally owned and operated solar energy contractor that serves all of Nova Scotia. Click here to visit their website and get a free customized solar proposal for your home or business.
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 Nova Scotia Power 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 Nova Scotia = 1,090h)
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 9.17kW solar panel system!
10,000kWh / 1,090h = 9.17kW
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 9.17kW system. You would do the above calculation and determine that you need 550sqft of space to install your system!
9.17kW / 0.3kW * 18sqft = 550sqft
(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 Nova Scotia 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 $2.55/watt – the average cost of installing a solar system in Nova Scotia.
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 9.17kW system would cost approximately $23,384 to install.
= 9,170watts x $2.55/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 $3.00+/watt for premium equipment and high quality installers.
Ready to get started? Then visit Solar Ascent’s website to get a free estimate:
Every year, we score every province and territory in Canada on the relative feasibility of installing a solar power system. This year, Nova Scotia scores #1, receiving a total score of 77/100.
The remainder of this guide explores each ranking factor individually, while also providing important information about installing solar in Nova Scotia.
(if you want to learn how we score each factor, please visit our Provincial Solar Rankings page)
Major Program: SolarHomes
Savings: 35% or $0.60/watt
Nova Scotia is one of only two provinces with an unrestricted province-wide solar energy incentive.
These factors are important because they reduce the upfront system costs. We’ve scored Nova Scotia 9/20 for this section.
Some important things to keep in mind:
- Per Watt. Rebates in the province are awarded based on the size of the system you install, in units of watts. Jump back up to the System Sizing section if you don’t understand what this means.
- Eligible Costs. Rebates have a maximum funding amount that is based on a percentage of total eligible expenses. In general, eligible expenses include the full cost of materials and installation, but not tax.
- Qualified Installation. Finally, rebates in Nova Scotia must meet certain installation qualifications. This includes the stipulation that the system must be installed by an Efficiency Nova Scotia qualified installer with CSA approved electric equipment.
- Application. Rebate applications, including all paperwork, should be handled entirely by your installation company.
Rebates & Tax Breaks
The primary solar incentive in Nova Scotia is the SolarHomes Program administered by Efficiency Nova Scotia.
This program allows property owners to earn a cash rebate of $0.60/watt for residential solar power installations with a minimum size of 1kW and up to a maximum rebate amount of $6,000.
Here is what the savings would look like for a 9.17kW system:
(9,170 watts) x ($0.60/watt) = $5,502
Thus, the cost of a 9.17kW system would decrease from $23,384 to $17,882. Go back to the Common Solar Questions section if you’re not sure where these numbers are coming from!
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 8 other energy incentive programs available in Nova Scotia. 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: 1090kWh per kW per year
Nova Scotia scores on the lower end for natural factors that influence the maximal amount of energy that a system can produce. We’ve scored Nova Scotia 16/20 for this section.
Nova Scotia has the ninth highest potential to produce solar energy in all of Canada, receiving less solar irradiance than most other provinces except BC and Newfoundland (plus the Northwest and Yukon Territories).
According to data from Natural Resources Canada, the average solar system in Nova Scotia can produce 1090kWh 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 Nova Scotia:
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:
- Halifax would produce about 1,073 kWh/yr
- Dartmouth would produce about 1,076 kWh/yr
- Truro would produce about 1,095 kWh/yr
- Amherst would produce about 1,125 kWh/yr
- New Glasgow would produce 1,081 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 Metering
Rate Design: $0.17/kWh, Flat
Nova Scotia scores on the high-end of the provinces 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 Nova Scotia 26/30 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.
Nova Scotia’s Enhanced Net Metering Program falls in the “good” category for net metering policies. It allows for systems up to 100kW in size to be connected to the grid and credits can be carried forward month-to-month.
Additionally, if you have excess credits at the end of the year, you will get a cash payment for them! The only catch is that you’re not allowed to purposely oversize your system – it has to match your previous consumption history.
Solar Setup Fees
Nova Scotia’s Enhanced Net Metering Program charges you approximately $250 for a bi-directional meter when you connect to the grid (if you don’t already have one).
Nova Scotia is one of the better provinces for solar with respect to electricity prices – higher prices mean higher savings potential.
Based on a monthly usage of 1,000kWh, the average total cost of electricity in Nova Scotia is $0.171/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 Nova Scotia have a lot of potential savings!
(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.
Nova Scotia scores in the middle of the pack when it comes to these factors – having flat rates and fixed monthly fees of $11.
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 – $11/mo is a small price to pay for using the grid as your back-up energy source!
The only way to completely remove your fixed costs is to go off the grid, something most homeowners in Nova Scotia 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: $2.55/watt
Financing Options: PACE
Nova Scotia is the best province in the country when it comes to financial factors because of low up-front costs and PACE financing options. We’ve scored Nova Scotia 26/30 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 Nova Scotia is about $2.43-$2.68/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.
PACE financing is currently open to many communities in Nova Scotia with the largest program being the Solar City Halifax Program. PACE programs are also available in several other communities, which you can find listed here.
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 for Nova Scotian homeowners:
- RBC Energy Saver Loan
- Up to 10 years amortization
- RBC contact number: 1-800-769-2511
Solar Power Nova Scotia
Because of Nova Scotia’s $0.60/Watt rebate, PACE financing options, and low installation costs – we rank Nova Scotia as being the #1 province in the country for switching to solar power!
Ready to get started? Then visit Solar Ascent’s website to get a free estimate:
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