Solar Energy

The total solar energy absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and land masses is approximately 3,850,000 exajoules (EJ) per year. In 2002, this was more energy in one hour than the world used in one year.The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the planet is so vast that in one year it is about twice as much as will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources of coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combined.

Canada has plentiful solar energy resources, with the most extensive resources being found in southern Ontario, Quebec and the Prairies. The territories have a smaller potential, and less direct sunlight, because of their higher latitude.

Historically, the main applications of solar energy technologies in Canada have been for non-electric active solar system applications for space heating, water heating and drying crops and lumber. In 2001, there were more than 12,000 residential solar water heating systems and 300 commercial/ industrial solar hot water systems in use. These systems presently comprise a small fraction of Canada’s energy use, but some government studies suggest they could make up as much as five per cent of the country’s energy needs by the year 2025


Solar power is the conversion of sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP).

Solar thermal technologies can be used for water heating, space heating, space cooling and process heat generation.

Solar hot water systems use sunlight to heat water.