Clean Energy Goes Big and Innovative

May 9, 2006
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Canada’s biggest city is soon to be home to the country’s biggest solar power installation. The City of Toronto is planning a 100-kW solar system for its popular Exhibition Place, located on the waterfront near downtown.

The $1 million system will be installed on the roof of the Horse Palace by Victoria-based Carmanah Technologies. It will be tied to the regular electricity grid and help reduce the city’s dependence on conventional power while demonstrating how renewable energy works.

An educational display in the lobby will show how much power is being produced, environmental conditions and historical system performance data. The system should reduce the annual carbon dioxide emissions of the facility by approximately 94.7 tonnes per year.

Says Rob McMonagle, Executive Director of the Canadian Solar Industries Association (CANSIA), “Solar energy will play an important role in future power generation. The demonstration at Exhibition Place will show how rooftops across Canada can be efficiently utilized for sustainable electrical generation. CANSIA applauds the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and the City of Toronto for launching this forward thinking project, and we expect many municipalities to follow their example.”

The solar system will join a wind turbine and hydrogen refueling station already in place at the park, which attracts over five million visitors annually to events like the Canadian National Exhibition and the Molson Indy. The goal for Exhibition Place is to become a net exporter of clean electricity.

Meanwhile, Ontario will soon offer Canada’s first subsidy to homeowners or businesses that install solar electric power: 42 cents for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity produced.

All the electricity generated would be sold to the local utility company for an estimated $1500 a year, and go into the power grid. Homeowners would continue to buy their power from the utility.

Although among the most generous in North America, the program won’t cover the entire cost of installing equipment. But solar companies say it should be enough to kick-start an industry that now badly lags behind Japan and parts of Europe, by leading to the installation of thousands of solar systems.

The solar subsidy will be part of a new incentive plan known as Standard Offer Contracts. Under the 20-year contracts, owners of solar and other renewable sources generating under 10 megawatts will be paid for all the power they produce. The other sources – mainly wind, but also wood waste, manure or other biological sources – will earn 11 cents a kWh.

The maximum size of 10 megawatts (mW) is roughly the same as 12 wind turbines like the one at Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Renewable Decisions

Opportunities for implementing commercially viable clean energy projects are being missed because decision makers do not routinely consider them, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRC). Planners, engineers and architects too often fail to appreciate the benefits of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies (RETs) at the critically important initial planning stage.

NRC’s innovative RETScreen International Clean Energy Project Analysis Software should help. It can be used world-wide to evaluate and compare the energy production, life-cycle costs and emission reductions for various types of energy technologies.

In addition to the software, the tool includes product, cost and international weather databases; an online manual; a case study based college/university-level training course and electronic textbook; and an Internet-based Marketplace.


Clean Energy Decision Support Centre

Natural Resources Canada

1615 Lionel-Boulet, Varennes QC J3X 1S6

Note that the solar power system referenced was supplied by Carmanah Technologies Corporation