Quebec government launches off grid solar incentive program

On March 27th, the province of Quebec’s Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife) announced a new incentive program that provides financial support for solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) installations that offset fossil fuel use. 


Although jurisdictions around the world such as Germany, France, Italy and Ontario have adopted popular feed in tariff (FIT) incentive programs for grid connected solar systems, the Government of Quebec has chosen a different type of program.  The Programme d’aide à l’installation d’équipements solaires opérationnels (PAIESO) offers to cover upto 50% of the installed cost of solar thermal systems, which utilize solar energy to pre-heat air or water, or upto 75% of solar PV installations for clean electricity generation.


The program specifically targets commercial, industrial, institutional, municipal and agricultural installations that are currently burning fossil fuels for power generation in off grid and mini-grid applications.  Eligible fossil fuels include heavy and light oil, diesel, gasoline, natural gaz, propane and butane.  The PAIESO has a budget of $ 7M and aims to fund some 150 projects.  Applications are currently being accepted until end of March 2013.


Solar PV / generator power systems with storage (i.e. batteries) have been in use for decades in remote areas where grid service is unavailable.  However in recent years, with tumbling prices of PV modules and increasing fossil fuel prices, battery-based Solar PV / generator hybrid power systems have become increasingly popular for both financial and sustainability reasons.  Integrating Solar PV and storage into a generator power system has numerous advantages, including increased system redundancy and reliability, reduction of generator runtimes which reduce maintenance, repair and fuel costs, as well as reduction of noise and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.


The quantity of fossil fuels burned by generator systems in remote areas across Quebec annually is unknown, but with increasing development due to Le Plan Nord, consumption of such fuels for power generation challenges sustainability objectives.  Reliable, certified solar PV and energy storage equipment are available to assist in meeting increasing remote power needs, as are experienced engineers, distributors and installers.  This is all good news, and will assist the Canadian province in achieving GHG emission reduction targets.


Andrew Wilkins (aka vineland_ca), is Sales Manager for commercial and government accounts with Montreal-based Matrix Energy Inc, Canada’s oldest full service distributor of renewable power equipment.

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