Photovoltaic potential refers to the energy production potential of a photovoltaic solar panel relative to its nominal power and is generally measured in kWh/ kW/year. The higher the potential, the greater the amount of energy that can be produced.
For example, a photovoltaic potential of 15 kWh/kW/year means that 15 kWh of energy is produced annually for each kW of power from the solar panel. A solar panel of 400 watts of power would therefore produce 6 kWh annually (15 kWh/year * 0.4 kW = 6 kWh/year).
Explained by the fact that the Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted 23 degrees from the vertical, that the Earth turns on itself once a day and that it revolves around the Sun in one year, the duration of sunshine varies continuously throughout the year. When the northern hemisphere is facing back to the Sun, it is winter; the days are short, the nights are long. Six months later, when the Northern Hemisphere points to the Sun, it’s summer; the days are long, the nights are short.
Combined with terrestrial climatic and altitudinal variations, this phenomenon means that the photovoltaic potential is not constant on a planetary scale. On one hand, at high latitudes, the radiation is distributed over a larger area than at the equator. This therefore means that the higher latitudes have poorer photovoltaic potential, due to the lower intensity of the solar radiation received. On the other hand, the lower the altitude, the more the solar radiation crosses a great thickness of air before reaching the ground, and the greater the extinction due to the atmosphere. The higher altitudes therefore have higher solar intensities (due to a lower atmospheric thickness) and thereby a better photovoltaic potential.
The figure below shows the global photovoltaic potential. The values vary between 700 and 2400 kWh/kW/year. The redder the color, the greater the potential. It turns out that the areas with high potential are desert areas where the hot, dry, and cloudless climate is ideal for any solar installation.
The figure below shows the Canadian photovoltaic potential. The values vary between 850 and 1400 kWh/kW/year and the average value is 1131 kWh/kW/year. In the same logic as for the previous figure, the more the color tends towards red, the better the photovoltaic potential. Canadian prairies therefore have the highest potential, again explained by lower cloud cover than elsewhere in Canada.
The figure below shows Quebec’s photovoltaic potential. The irradiation values vary between 1000 and 1250 kWh/kW/year and the average value is 1183 kWh/kW/year. Again, the more the color tends towards red, the better the photovoltaic potential. Southern Quebec therefore has the highest potential, explained by the lower cloud cover.
As an indication, a 10 kW solar power system would produce 11 830 kWh/year. Since a standard Quebec single-family home consumes 25 000 kWh/year, such a system would fill approximately 45% of your electricity consumption.
The figure below shows the PV power installed worldwide (in megawatts). The country with the biggest installed capacity is China, followed by Japan, the United States and Germany. Canada, for its part ranks 16th with an installed capacity of 3133 MW as of 2018.
Referring to the map of global photovoltaic potential previously presented, it turns out that the photovoltaic potential of the four main solar leaders is similar and sometimes even lower than ours. Indeed, the Chinese potential is lower than ours (due to air pollution much higher than ours), the Japanese and American potentials are similar to ours (except that of the southwest of the United States) and the German potential is lower than ours (due to more cloud cover than here).
Ultimately, the values of the photovoltaic potentials presented within the framework of this article show that our potential is very satisfactory from an energy point of view. Indeed, knowing that our photovoltaic potential is similar and even superior to the majority of the world solar leaders, it would seem that our low installed capacity compared to that of the world solar leaders is justified by a lack of capital or will. It is with the hope that we will initiate an ecological transition soon.
If you wish to opt for solar energy, do not hesitate to contact us for more information regarding the different types of residential and commercial solar systems available. We will be happy to help you!