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Dec 11, 2015 - microFIT Procurement Target, Holiday Maintenance, New Price Schedule, and Version Change

2015 microFIT Procurement Target

As of December 10, 2015 the annual microFIT procurement target of 50 MW has been achieved. Applications will continue to be processed if capacity becomes available.

For updates on the 2015 procurement target please review the microFIT bi-weekly reports.

microFIT Maintenance

  • From December 13, 2015,from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., the My microFIT Home Page will be unavailable.
  • From December 31, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. to January 5, 2016, the microFIT Application submission functionality will be unavailable. During this time, Applicants will be able to access their My microFIT Home Page but will not be able to submit applications.
  • From January 4, 2016 to January 5, 2016, all functions of the My microfit Home Page will be unavailable. The My microfit Home Page will be returned to full service on January 5, 2016

Price Schedule Change
All active microFIT applications that have not been issued an Application Approval Notice prior to January 1, 2016, will be subject to the new FIT/microFIT Price Schedule.

In order for the IESO to issue Application Approval Notices prior to January 1, 2016, LDCs must report all Offers to Connect to the IESO no later than 4 p.m. on December 31, 2015. If you have received an Offer to Connect from your LDC, and the status of your application has not yet been changed to "Pending Connection", please contact your LDC directly. You can verify the status of your Application by logging into your My microFIT Home Page.

microFIT Version Change
On January 1, 2016, Version 3.3 of the microFIT Program comes into effect. The only change being made is the implementation of the 2016 Price Schedule; no other changes are being made to the microFIT Program at this time. All active applications that have not been issues an Application Approval Notice prior to January 1, 2016, will automatically be considered under version 3.3.

Click here to read all microFIT program updates in their entirety

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Solar Panel Basics

 

What are solar panels?

Solar panels harvest sunlight and actively convert it to electricity.  Solar cells (photovoltaic cells), are arranged in a grid-like pattern on the surface of the solar panel.  These solar voltaic cells collect sunlight during the daylight hours and convert it to electricity.

How do solar panels work?

A solar panel is made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, varying in size and number depending on the watt/amp rating of the panel.  These cells are made from two very thin silicon wafers approximately 1 millimeter thick, one with a positive charge and the other negatively charged.  When exposed to sunlight, electron activity is generated and is captured by a grid of very fine finger-like electrical contacts distributed across the panel.  This is then channeled through a junction box on the back of the panel and emerges as direct current (DC) electricity.

What are solar panels made of?

Everyday solar panels are typically constructed using crystalline silicon (monocrystalline or poly/multicrystalline), which are also used in other industries (microprocessors etc.).  Covering the thin silicon wafers is normally a layer of toughened, tempered glass, usually around 3 mm thick.  It has to be strong enough to withstand hail, extreme temperatures and a degree of flexing, but thin enough to not filter out or reflect sunlight.  The back of the solar panel is made from aluminum and the panel is set into an aluminum frame.

Monocrystalline vs. Polycrystalline (aka Multicrystalline)

Rigid solar panels are usually made up of either monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells.  Monocrystalline cells are cut from a chunk of silicon that has been grown from a single crystal.  These are used in more expensive types of solar panels and are more efficient in converting sunlight to electricity.  A polycrystalline cell is cut from multifaceted silicon crystal.  More surface area is required due to inherent flaws and these panels are less efficient in converting the sun's rays.  However, polycrystalline technology has closed the efficiency gap in recent years.  The easiest way to visually identify the difference between the two types of panels is the polycrystalline has an appearance similar to shattered glass, whereas monocrystalline panels tend to be more uniform in appearance.

How much power do solar panels produce?

In direct sunlight at the surface of the equator, a maximally efficient PV cell about 1/5 m in diameter creates a current of approximately 2 amps at 2 volts.  However, due to the Earth's atmospheric interference, earthbound solar panels will never perform as well as solar panels exposed directly to the sun's rays.  The amount of power that solar panels produce is influenced by the quality of the solar panel, the materials and technology used in making the solar panel, and the amount of time the solar panel has been in use.  When purchasing solar panels, it is therefore wise to look beyond size and look at the dollars/watt ratio.

STC vs. PTC Ratings

STC is an acronym for 'Standard Test Conditions', which is 1000 watts per square meter solar irradiance, 1.5 Air Mass and 20 degrees Celcius. These are not real world conditions. PTC is an acronym for 'PV USA Test Conditions', which were developed at the University of Davis, California. PTC rating is a more accurate reflection of real world conditions. Therefore, when comparing panel ratings, one should ensure that PTC ratings are used.

Rated Power Tolerance

This specification pertains to range within which a panel will overperform or underperform. For instance, a 180 watt PTC rated panel with a power tolerance of +/-5 could actually produce anywhere from 175-185 watts in optimal real world conditions. Therefore, when comparing panels for your project you should limit your selection to panels with only positive and/or very small negative power tolerance ratings.

 
 
 

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