Jobs Up as Canadian PV Industry Grows

Jobs Up as Canadian PV Industry Grows

The future looks bright for Canada’s solar photovoltaics industry, and for people looking for jobs in it. A report detailing the development of solar electricity in Canada has found that the industry has grown at an annual rate of 29% over the past seven years.

According to the Photovoltaic Energy Technology Program, CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory, of Natural Resources Canada in Quebec, the installed capacity of solar photovoltaics in Canada broke the five megawatt level in 1999.

The report, presented to the International Energy Agency in September, cited a survey of 33 solar companies, revenue from sales, and installation of PV systems in 1999. Report authors said the primary markets for PV in Canada were in isolated regions that wanted electricity generated onsite rather than brought in by power lines. Buyers also were highway departments for crosswalk electricity for flashing lights and for high construction yellow flashing lights.

The Canadian oil and industry sector is one of the largest purchasers of PV systems; it uses the solar cells to power remote monitoring devices that report via satellite the gas and oil flows through the tens of thousands of miles of pipelines in Canada.

The total commercial activity from Canadian PV companies is estimated to be worth $40 million in 1999.

Also according to the report:
  • The PV industry was estimated to provide 250 full-time jobs in 1999, up from 220 reported in 1998.
  • The cumulative installed capacity of PV in Canada reached 5,586 kW last year, up from 960 kW in 1992.
  • The strongest growth has been in off-grid residential applications, particularly in the cottage and recreational market, which have increased from 105 kW in 1992 to 2,157 kW last year.
  • Off-grid commercial and industrial applications represent the strongest market, with 3,375 kW, up from 686 kW seven years ago.
  • The third market segment, on-grid PV, has only 297 kW of installed capacity, up from 167 kW in 1992.
  • NRCan and the consulting firm KPMG are finalizing a PV marketing plan to promote solar panels in Canada.
The NRCan report covers the sale of PV modules that are larger than 40 watts, but it notes that Canada has a strong retail market for smaller modules used in solar lanterns and garden lights. It also says that exports represent only 6% of PV sales in Canada.

Overall system prices increased slightly last year, with PV panel and installation costs ranging from $16 per peak watt for cathodic protection, to $27 per watt installed for telecommunications applications. Cottage installations are hitting $40 per watt.

For more information contact Lisa Dignard-Bailey, Section Head, Photovoltaic Energy Technology Program, CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory, Natural Resources Canada, Box 480, Varennes, Quebec J3X 1S6. Ph. 450-652-5161. Web site http://cedrl.mets.nrcan.gc.ca.

For a copy of earlier PV reports go to the International Energy Association Web site at http://www.euronet.nl/users/oke/PVPS/products/home.htm.

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