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Solar power in Canada

Canada has abundant solar energy resources, with the largest resources being found in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies. The territories have a smaller potential because of their higher latitude, which results in less direct sunlight. The amount of solar energy available across the country varies with the season, latitude, weather conditions and the time of day.

To date, the main applications of solar energy technologies in Canada have been for non-electricity active solar system applications for space heating, water heating and drying crops and lumber.

Canada has many regions that are sparsely populated and somewhat inaccessible. In these places, the nearest power line can be hundreds of kilometres away. For that reason, PV cells are increasingly used as standalone units across the country, mostly as off-grid distributed electricity generation to power remote homes, cottages, telecommunications equipment, oil and pipeline monitoring stations and navigational devices.

One of the most important potential uses for PV cells is in northern communities, many of which depend on high-cost diesel fuel to generate electricity. Since the 1970s, the federal government and industry have been actively involved in developing solar technologies for these communities. Some of these efforts have focused on the development of hybrid systems that provide power 24 hours a day, using solar power when sunlight is available and another energy source the rest of the time.

Canadian companies make solar modules, controls, specialized water pumps, high efficiency refrigerators and solar lighting systems. Canada's total PV power installed capacity reached 94.57. MW in 2009 compared to 32.72 MW at the end of 2008.


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