Over the past decade, a number of jurisdictions have taken significant steps to encourage the diffusion of solar photovoltaic technology (PV). Supportive policy frameworks have been widely adopted, spurring deployment and driving down the cost of PV components. The increased competitiveness of this technology presents a promising opportunity for meeting energy needs in a low-carbon fashion. Indeed, a growing body of research suggests that PV could produce significant quantities of energy. However, the diffusion of PV in Canada has been comparatively slow and GHG emissions in this jurisdiction are on an upward trajectory. As a result, we explore the potential of PV in Canada in regards to: (1) the scale of possible contributions to energy supply and GHG abatement, and (2) the particular functional roles and niches this technology could occupy looking out to 2050. In doing so, this study reviews the current status of knowledge on PV potential in Canada and argues that estimates which revolve around technical parameters such as solar irradiance, module efficiency, and land area (and even those that include some reference to current prices), are limited in their ability to understand the place this technology might actually occupy in Canada in coming decades. While technical potential is an important consideration, the interrelated economic, socio-political, and environmental influences need to be taken into account. This paper discusses the nature of these influences and explores PV potential in the context of key features of possible low-carbon pathways for Canada.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Energy potential, Greenhouse gas abatement, Low-carbon transition pathways, Renewable energy policy, Solar photovoltaics, Sustainable energy
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2014.07.135
Journal Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Citation
Rosenbloom, D. (Daniel), & Meadowcroft, J. (2014). Harnessing the Sun: Reviewing the potential of solar photovoltaics in Canada. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (Vol. 40, pp. 488–496). doi:10.1016/j.rser.2014.07.135