Welcome to Alberta's Experts in Renewable Energy

Goals and Purposes in Going to Solar or Wind Power

It is quite important before starting out to have a clear purpose and realize what is involved in having a solar or wind power system. 

Most people will find that one of the following goals will fit, but if not, You should identify your personal goals before proceeding. Also, be prepared to learn a few things; these systems, with the exception of solar without batteries running parallel with the grid require at least some attention and maintenance.

1: Bringing in power to a new build is very expensive and I am willing to adjust my lifestyle and not have the convenience of the electrical grid.

  • This is likely the only cost efficient scenario in acquiring a system. 
  • This requires gaining an understanding of basic electricity, listing out the amount of power that each appliance and energy consuming device uses and determining the size of required system.
  • It also requires that you keep track of your energy status and adjust your usage accordingly
  • If you want to operate as though "on grid", a system can cost $80,000.00 to $200,000.00 but if it is really designed carefully and you adjust your usage and lifestyle accordingly, a $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 system may suffice.

2:  I want to be independent of the Grid or have part of my power secure, even though right now it's going to cost me more

  • at present rates, the electrical grid is still the cheapest way to get the energy that you use. About the only exception to this is an extremely low power consumption set up.
  • This requires gaining an understanding of basic electricity, listing out the amount of power that each appliance and energy consuming device uses and determining the size of required system.
  • It also requires that you keep track of your energy status and adjust your usage accordingly
  • If you want to operate as though "on grid", a system can cost $80,000.00 to $200,000.00 but if it is really designed carefully and you adjust your usage and lifestyle accordingly, a $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 system may suffice.

3:  I want to save money.

  • In most cases, it's not going to happen.  Renewable energy is more expensive than utility power, even though the prices have been coming down. About the only exception is if you require very little energy and the monthly charges comprise most of your utility bill.

4:  I realize that as I get older, I will not be able to have the income that I have now, and I would like to invest the money that I currently make into a system, so that later when my income is down and the utility prices are up, I will not have as  much of my income going to utilities.

  • This requires gaining a basic understanding of electricity, listing out the amount of power that each appliance and energy consuming device uses on an energy worksheet and determining (or working with us to determine) the size of required system.
  • It also requires that you keep track of your energy status and adjust your usage accordingly.
  • If you want to operate as though "on grid", a system can cost $80,000.00 to $200,000.00 but if it is really designed carefully and you adjust your usage and lifestyle accordingly, a $25,000.00 to $35,000.00 system may suffice.

5:  I am concerned about the environment and would like to help, even though I know it will cost me more. I am willing to spend $ _________in order to help.

  • This type of system may or may not have batteries. In a system which runs parallel with the grid, there is a process to go through in order to do this which is fairly simple now. We are now at a point in time where there is a long term financial “payback” with the grid interactive systems. In a system which does not run parallel to the grid, but is either stand alone or uses the grid to charge batteries, you still need to have a basic understanding of electricity and determine power usage.
  • A system running parallel to the grid is able to fully utilize all the power produced, whereas in other setups, some power is generally not able to be used, since the produced power does not always correspond with the used power.  This is due to weather and climate conditions, as well as usage patterns.

6:  I am interested in the technology, and I would like to spend $ ___________ on a system.

  • Here again, you do need a basic understanding of electricity and power usage, but payback in dollars is not an issue. You need to decide how much you would like to spend, what type of system you would like and what you would like to use the power for.  

7:  None of the above really fit, here is my reason for wanting a system.

Generally speaking, these systems are involved, cost more and require learning and attention, though the benefits are increased security in case of the power outage, less dependence on fossil fuels and the availability of power where the grid is not available, or is cost prohibitive.

In Alberta, for the most part, solar power is more cost effective than wind, requires less maintenance, is less subject to developmental criteria and lasts longer.  About the only exceptions to this are some of the really high wind areas south of Calgary which produce very well.  A good rule of thumb is that the wind has to be uncomfortably strong to produce decent power - usually about 12 MPH average wind speed.

Please go through the worksheet and determine the power usage per day that you would require. 

If you are presently on the grid and would like to know how much it would take to be "off grid", determine the daily power consumption for the highest usage month, usually December - January from your electricity bills.

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