CANADA — A solar power plant in Quebec could cost as little as $1.50 per kilowatt-hour compared with $3 per kilo-hour on conventional power, a Canadian government report says.
Solar power has become cheaper, but it is still an expensive option.
It’s also more complicated to install than coal-fired power plants because it requires costly and time-consuming engineering, the report said.
The new study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the first of its kind.
It comes as a global glut of solar power is threatening to destroy the energy sector and its economies.
Solar-powered power is a growing energy source that can provide electricity in places where there are no coal-based power plants, such as places like Quebec.
But it’s also a major cost to build.
Canada, one of the world’s largest energy consumers, has spent billions of dollars on wind and solar power in recent years, but the industry is expected to grow at a faster rate than electricity production.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that solar power could account for 80% of the country’s power generation by 2030.
A solar-powered plant in Lac La Selle, Quebec.
(Photo: Paul Chiasson, AP)A new report released Friday by the Canada Energy Research Initiative said it found that while there was little difference in the cost of solar and conventional power plants on the grid, they were less efficient and more expensive to operate than coal plants.
The cost of operating a solar plant could be as low as $0.02 per kilogram of electricity, compared with the $0 and $0:50 per megawatt-hours that are usually quoted for coal plants, the institute said.
Solar plants, which produce electricity on the sun’s rays, require less maintenance, so they have fewer operational and financial issues compared to conventional power systems, it said.
It also takes less time to install, because the plants can be powered at night or during periods when there are few customers.
A Quebec solar power station.
(Photos: Canadian Nuclear Security Commission)The cost of building a solar power facility could be anywhere from $100 million to $2 billion, the study said.
This is because solar plants are usually made of glass or aluminum panels that have a low thermal conductivity.
The panels are also usually installed on poles and wires, which are more difficult to move, said Dr. David MacDougall, a senior research scientist with the institute.
In a previous study, the government of Ontario in 2015 said that solar panels could cost $50,000 to $75,000.
It estimated that, compared to coal, solar power would be more cost-effective in 2030, but said there would be some cost increases.
“The cost to produce electricity with solar power has been estimated to be about $4.25 per megajoule, which is lower than the current average cost of electricity in Canada,” the report noted.
Solar panels, made by SunEdison, were the main technology powering solar power plants.
They use photovoltaic panels that produce light from sunlight.
A typical solar plant produces about 20 megawatts of power.
A French utility is considering a solar farm in Quebec that could have an installed capacity of 1,000 megawatts.
The French government said in 2016 that a wind farm in the area could generate as much as 1,400 megawatts, or 2,000 times more power.
In Canada, solar is expected by 2020 to have a net-zero emissions rate of more than 90%.
In the United States, the number is about 1% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, compared and exceeding Canada’s level.
The number of power plants in operation is expected in the United Kingdom, France and Germany to reach 500 by 2020.