Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sunny side up! New map shows the solar potential of your roof

Wondering about the potential amount of sunshine on your home’s roof and how it compares to other homes? Check out the Solar Potential Map to find out!

In today’s world, data is power and in the case of the new Solar Potential Map released on The City’s Map Gallery, solar data can help Calgarians make some powerful decisions about powering their homes.

The new solar potential map is intended to be a starting point for Calgarians who are curious about the viability of solar as an energy source for their particular home or building. Using data collected in 2012 and 2013, the map shows all buildings in Calgary’s city limits and their varying degrees of solar exposure, on an annual basis, in generalized optimal conditions.

“The solar potential map can be the first step in determining if a solar energy system could work on your home”, says Liz Findlay, the Manager of Geospatial Business Solutions, the group who created the map. “But this is just the first step. People considering a solar installation should contact a solar system professional to conduct a thorough assessment for their particular building and location”.

The best place to look for solar professionals is the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CanSIA), which has an online member directory.

Solar energy isn’t just for homes. The City is a leader in tapping into the potential of the sun. Various City facilities already have solar systems installed to off-set some of their electricity needs and costs. You can find the particular locations on the solar potential map using the information icons on the map or scrolling through the project listings on the left side bar. To find your home on the map, simply type your home address in the search bar.

“The City is using some of this solar data as an initial assessment tool for City-owned facilities that may have potential for solar technology”, says Arsheel Hirji, the Leader of Sustainable Infrastructure in Engineering & Energy Services. “We then conduct a more extensive evaluation of the sites, including structural evaluations, financial viability, detailed solar exposure evaluations and secured funding sources.”

One facility in particular, Southland Leisure Centre, just celebrated the one year anniversary of its solar system installation and the data is impressive. Here are some quick facts:
  • In 2015, The City installed a 153 kWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system at the Southland Leisure (The City’s largest solar system to date). 
  • Even with the rainy and cloudy summer of 2016, the project produced 179,665 kWh of electricity in its first year of operation. 
  • This is enough electricity to power 24 Calgary homes for a year and is equivalent to the emission reductions of removing 23 passenger vehicles from the road. 
  • The system displaced approximately $26,000 in electricity charges. 

The geospatial and sustainable infrastructure experts who have led the solar data work are part of Corporate Analytics & Innovation (CAI). The CAI business unit works with other City service areas to use data, analytical tools and technologies to help make better decisions, and improve City operations and services.


  1. You neglected to include the cost of the Southland installation. Everybody will be interested in the ROI.

    1. The initial cost is always substantial, they are looking at a long term ROI not immediate. It's also great to see that our city is working to refuse dependence on fossil fuels, reduce emissions and diversify it's energy sources

    2. Very good question....I do recall a news article indicating that the Pembina Institute was paid $380,000 to perform an alternative renewable energy assessment which was later paid for by our current mayor. I was surprised that the City of Calgary Engineering department was not assigned the task as a FEED - Front-Eng Engineering Design assessment.... since the real design and construction work had to be done by others after that intial $380,000 was spent on just the study!

  2. Agree with Anon from Nov 3rd at 6:56am. What is the ROI? Previous articles suggest it will be "paid off" in 14 years, but details would be nice.

    1. I designed and supervised the installation of many remote gas well site PV Solar systems starting around 1988 and more recently provided pro bono engineering for our local church in conjunction with Enmax solar initiative and others following..

      ROI is between 12 and 22 years depending upon roof line suitability. In one case close by the roof was ideal until a three storey building was built on the south side of the same street..... ROI jumped from 12 years to about 24 years......

      Until the municipal laws are in place to protect the PV Solar investor you may have no recourse for subsequent nearby development/redevelopment affecting your investment.

  3. I checked out our own residence roof line for PV Solar feasibility and, sad to say, this City of Calgary presented PV Solar map is dangerously misleading....... to the point where it needs to be recinded until corrected......... Our roof is shown as ideal..... but the roof peaks obstruct sunlight from several angle throughout the day summer and winter......

    This could mislead politicians and leaders to make even worse decisions regarding the energy future of our citizens.