2021: A Bright Outlook for Solar and Renewables

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2021: A Bright Outlook for Solar and Renewables

With the days getting longer, the sun shining brighter, and a year of COVID under our belts, it’s a great time to observe the state of renewable energy in North America and explore some recent developments.

Despite a pandemic, Renewable Energy has been thriving in Canada and the USA. Canada had significant growth in solar, wind and energy storage projects in 2020, setting the stage for significant growth in 2021 and beyond. In the United States, 2020 was a record year for solar, becoming the fastest growing sector in the country, with installations on track to quadruple by 2030.

Without further ado, here’s what’s been going on in the world of Renewables in North America:

Canada's Renewable Growth at a glance

Canada currently gets about 67 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable sources, and is poised to have 90 percent coming from non-emitting sources by 2030. Wind and solar capacity is projected to continue growing significantly (albeit at a slower pace compared to 2010 and 2017).

  • New wind power generation installed in 2020: 166 MW  
  • New solar power generation installed in 2020:  70 MW  
  • New energy storage capacity installed in 2020: 12 MW
  • There are more than 43,000 solar energy installations in Canada. [Canadian Renewable Energy Association, December 2020]
  • Solar energy costs have declined 90% since 2009. [Lazard 14.0]

In Prince Edward Island, Wind and solar generation now meet 40% of electricity demand and meets 18% in Nova Scotia, with generation approaching 10 percent in other Canadian provinces.

The Canadian Renewable Energy Association (CanREA) announced in their recent forecast that Canada’s wind energy, solar energy and energy storage sectors ended 2020 in a strong position, ready to expand significantly in 2021:

“Despite considerable challenges posed by the global pandemic, Canada ended 2020 with a total wind capacity of 13,588 MW, a total solar capacity of approximately 3,000 MW, significant growth in energy storage, and a positive forecast for 2021.” -Robert Hornung, President and CEO, CanREA

Significant further expansion is expected over the next year, with 240 MW of large-scale solar projects and 745 MW of wind projects already under construction across Canada. CanREA expects close to two gigawatts of wind and solar projects to be installed or to begin construction in 2021.

Canada’s Supreme Court rules carbon price constitutional

In late March, the Supreme Court ruled the federal carbon pricing law as constitutional, sending a clear message to the world that Canada is a country that takes climate action seriously.

The federal government will likely proceed with their intention to increase the price of carbon, as they indicated in their 2020 climate plan. The fuel charge consumers pay will increase from $40 per tonne (in April) to $50 per tonne in the following year. It will then rise $15 per year, until 2030 when it reaches $170 per tonne.

The carbon price is the centrepiece of the 2018 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, which aims to exceed Canada’s 2030 emission-reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Stay tuned. Compass will be posting a more in-depth look at what this means for Canadian energy users. You can sign up for Email Updates from Compass Energy Consulting here.

2020 a Record Year for Solar in the United States

In the United States, 2020 was a record year for solar, becoming the fastest growing sector in the country, with installations on track to quadruple by 2030. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic slowing certain projects, additions of new solar generating capacity broke records last year as per new industry data.

By the end of 2020, the US had installed 19.2 gigawatts (GWdc) of solar PV capacity reaching a total 97.7 GWdc installed capacity. That’s enough to power 17.7 million American homes! A record 6.3 GWdc of utility-scale projects were installed in Q4 2020 alone.

According to the SEIA, Solar accounted for 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the US in 2020, representing solar’s largest ever share of new generating capacity and ranking first among all technologies for the second year in a row. In fact, if the US solar industry maintains course, it will install more than 324 GW of capacity over the next 10 years, quadrupling the current amount of solar capacity installed.

Even better, Renewable growth may accelerate in 2021 if the new administration begins to execute on their platform that includes rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and investing $2 trillion in clean energy, and fully decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 in order to achieve their larger goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The world is going solar. Are you ready to join?

Before starting your journey into solar, you need to see if numbers make sense for you. A simple system design or feasibility analysis can help you determine if the economics of a solar system makes sense. An optimal design will be best for your bottom line in the long run, and you can rest easy knowing how long you can expect your system to pay for itself.


Contact us today for a free assessment, we can hep determine if the economics of solar make sense for you.