Solar Energy Seminar

For engineers and others interested in the design, development and installation of solar energy projects,  the Association of Engineers of BC (APEGBC) is organizing a seminar on this topic on Nov 9, 2016.
This session will cover all key aspects of solar photovoltaic (PV) technology with the objective to understand how to implement a successful solar project in BC.
The presenter is Michel de Spot, who has extensive experience in solar energy.  Michel was the main driver behind SunMine the first large-scale solar project outside Ontario and a recipient of the prestigious Engineers Canada award.
To register, visit the APEGBC events web site.
The seminar is now closed.  See details and slides here.
Posted in SRI

Solar Resource Information (SRI)

Solar Resource Information is a key component at any stage of a solar project lifecycle.

  • Early development analysis
  • Site prospection.
  • Collect of solar data
  • Preliminary design.
  • Long-term energy assessment
  • Economic viability.
  • Design parameter support.
  • Utility connection.
  • Performance verification
  • Utility forecasting.

The proper siting of any renewable energy system is critical to its success. However, siting a solar energy system can be particularly challenging because of the varying nature of the sun. Daily weather fluctuations and seasonal position changes can have significant effects on a system’s performance. – NREL

EcoSmart has developed a series of tools to provide accurate SRI at any step of a solar project. We offer expert advice to make a solar plant as efficient and cost-effective as possible. Our services include:

Early Stage

  • On site data measurement
  • Acquisition of high-quality solar data
  • Data analysis and long-term energy yield prediction
  • Uncertainties and statistical analysis
  • Economic analysis (P95 and risk assessment)

Design Stage

  • Selection between fixed and tracker systems
  • Tracker optimization
  • Array tilt optimization
  • Shading and area optimization
  • PVSyst analysis
  • Simulations
  • … and more

Ranking of Solar Energy in BC, Canada

BC Solar Energy Where are the best places to develop a solar plant in BC. What are opportunities for the First Nations? The graph shows the expected energy yield of solar systems installed near weather stations – usually airport where we can find reliable solar data. It highlights also First Nations with good solar development opportunities.
The units are in kWh per kWp installed (the amount of energy produced per unit of power installed or in short the capacity factor in hours per year).
In this case, it is assumed that the system is installed on trackers which can boost significantly the energy output. Cranbrook, Kimberley (site of SunMine, the first large scale solar power plant in BC) and the Kootenays have exceptional solar energy (In the four best solar sites in Canada). Anything above 1,500 hr is quite good and better than Germany. Haida Gwaii is a special case it has lower solar energy level but the island relies on diesel genset that has higher costs of producing electricity -making solar potentially cost-competitive.

Posted in SRI

LCOE & ROI definition


The Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) is a standard methodology used by utilities, policy-maker, and industry to calculate  the cost of electricity produced by a generator over its lifetime. It is the ratio of the initial capital cost plus the present value of all future operational costs (administration, maintenance and fuel) to the present value of all the energy produced during the anticipated lifetime of the project.
For a solar project, the fuel (the sun) is free and without administration costs, the LCOE formula is:

LCOE Formula
LCOE  is in  $/MWh
CapInit = Initial Capital Cost = cost per watt * 106
Mi =  Maintenance cost at year i taking into account inflation (cpi) and calculated at mid-year.  Mi = mY1 * (1+cpi) (i-0.5)
mY1= Maintenance costs $/MW in the first year
cpi = Consumer Price Index
Ei = Energy produced at year I taking into account  annual PV modules derating = enY1 *( 1 – (lid + (dr25 – lid)/lt*(i – 1)))
cpw = Cost per Watt ($/Wp)
enY1 = Energy produced the first year
lid = PV first light induced degradation
dr25= PV total derating after 25 years 
lt = project lifetime
PV = present value : PV(x) = x * (1+bnkr) –(i-0.5)  calculated at mid-year
bnkr = Discount ( or sometimes called bank) rate


The Return on investment (ROI) is a simple, basic financial benchmark: (Total gain from investment – Total cost of investment) / Total cost of Investment.
In the case of a solar plant, the formula is the following:

ROI Formula
ROI Formula


  • p = ROI period
  • TRFi = Tariff of electricity paid at year i
  • Ei = Energy produced in year i (derated by 20% over 25 years)
  • OMi = O&M cost during year i
  • CAPinit = Initial capital cost
Posted in SRI

Canada Solar Energy by Monitoring Station

The solar energy map is calculated on data from 235 weather stations across Canada, provided by Environment Canada.
The chart ranks these stations by energy level. It shows the annual energy yield in kWh/a of a 1 kWp system installed on a full-tracker. The units are in kWh/kWp/a or hr/a. (Note: the chart is very large you will need to zoom to view it)
panmaxbarchartThe highest ‘hot-spot’ is Pincher Creek in West-Alberta with 2,528 hr/a, the lowest ‘cool-spot’ is Prince Rupert on the BC west coast, with 1,290 hr/a.


  1. Pincher Creek, the hottest spot in Canada  is close to Kimberley where EcoSmart is helping develop SunMine, the first large scale solar project in BC.
  2. The South of the Canadian prairies have a huge solar potential.
  3. The highest solar hotspots have energy level at par with Arizona or California,   when the temperature effect on the PV efficiency is considered.
  4. The second lowest point (Sandspit on Haida Gwaii) has still comparable solar energy than most places in Germany.