Building-Integrated Photovoltaics in Toronto

Posted by Admin on July 26, 2012

The Enwave Theatre in Toronto has now completed the new work by glass artist Sarah Hall. She created “Waterglass”, which combines art and solar cells with insulating glass, and it creates bright waves of blue around the building. The west part of her work has 540 cells on 10 panels, and it is a first for Toronto. This concept is called building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV).

Through the integration of solar cells, this method of applying PVs differs from solar panels you may see on the roof, through conspicuous placements such as roof shingles, skylights, windows, or siding. As big as BIPV is in Europe and Asia, this is very new to Canada. This is partially due to the FIT program not designing and factoring in the potential of BIPV projects.

With the large amount of new high-rise buildings coming to Toronto, this is the perfect time to considering integrating solar into architectural designs. This concept also should potentially have its own FIT rate.

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London Prototype Solar Farm

Posted by Admin on July 13, 2012

London Hydro is the electricity utility provider for the City of London and surrounding areas. The company has been exploring ways to integrate more renewable energy sources into the grid. Solar farms are idle at night and only partially utilized during the day. The research activities with Western University have led to the development of a prototype that will be demonstrated for the first time in Canada in December 2012 at a 10-kilowatt solar farm. More information is available at www.londonhydro.com.

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Solar Myths Defeated

Posted by Admin on June 29, 2012

Even though solar panel technology has been around for a long time, a lot of people find themselves hesitant in adopting solar technology on their roofs due to many misconceptions regarding solar panel systems. One myth argues that photovoltaic panels require constant sunlight. However, in reality, panels mostly require UV radiation over direct sunlight. Even when the sky is cloudy, the panels will function with full potential. In fact, panels work even more efficiently when they’re cooler.

Another myth is that pv panels cannot handle winter temperatures and precipitation. However, panels are almost maintenance-free even in the winter. South-facing panels even help melt the snow and keep it off and still collect a lot of solar energy. They also protect the roof from weather damage. Another myth concerns the visual appeal of installing solar panels. While some may think that panels will dampen the esthetic appeal of their property, in actuality, solar panels can even come as solar shingles for a sleek, black roof. They also increase the value of the property and protect the roof from weather damage.

Some people think that solar panels require a lot of maintenance. However, since panels can survive extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, normal weather will not affect the efficiency of the panel. The panels are easy to clean, all you need to do is hose them off periodically.

Solar energy is efficient, free, does not damage the environment, and will lead to savings in the long run. While the initial investment may seem excessive, they pay for themselves in the long run and save the homeowner a substantial amount of money every year.

To read more about these myths, click here.

To learn more about installing your own solar panel system, contact us today!

Scottsdale, Arizona Solar Energy Projects

Posted by Admin on June 28, 2012

The city of Scottsdale is creating shade and collecting solar energy simultaneously with their plan on installing solar-shade structures in the parking lots of many schools in the area. Through these structures and the installation of pv panels on the rooftops of schools, the school district will cover almost 25% of their energy needs and will save $300,000 every year.

Green Choice Solar, a company based in Scottsdale, recently completed a 1.32 solar system at the Jewish Community Campus, which includes rooftop panels and solar canopies covering 400 parking spaces. This system covers 90% of the campus’s energy needs and will save over $15 million over its lifetime.

All of the planned projects throughout Scottsdale should be complete by this September. This city has been advocating green energy, and specifically solar energy, for over a decade. Green energy is even a requirement in all the municipal buildings.

To find out about having your own solar panel system, click here to find out about Ontario’s solar programs.

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Dawson Creek: Taking Solar Energy and Their Green Movement Seriously

Posted by Admin on June 27, 2012

While being in the centre of nonrenewable energy producer areas in Canada, the small city of Dawson Creek ironically shows signs of a small green movement. The mayor even imposed a carbon tax of $100 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions. All the money collected from this tax goes towards a carbon fund, used to fund green energy projects. Last year, the city emitted 3,600 tonnes, so they put aside $360 thousand towards green initiatives in the city.

Dawson Creek takes their green initiatives seriously, and has completed green audits on public buildings, and even installed solar panels on City Hall. They also reduced their use of natural gas by using solar thermal water systems on high energy-eating buildings such as City Hall, firehall, police station, and airport.

Similar to Dawson Creek, Edmonton is one of the sunniest cities in all of Canada and in 2010, it even began offering a rebate program for home and business owners who installed PV systems connected to the grid. This little city plans on becoming carbon neutral, even if they are located in oil and gas central.

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Net Zero Energy Buildings

Posted by Admin on June 25, 2012

Buildings consume almost half of all energy produced in the United States, and the number is growing. The IEA predicts that if India and China’s energy consumptions reach the same levels as the US, their consumption would be four and seven times greater than they have been in recent years.

There have been several plans on improving this consumption, including the plan to use a two-pronged approach. First, all buildings must be designed to consume less energy. Second, the buildings must have a way of generating some energy to offset their consumption. This concept is referred to as NZE (Net Zero Energy Buildings).

The IEA argues that the most effective and affordable method for the energy generation step of the plan is through PV solar panel systems. The decreasing costs of using solar energy have increased interest in this renewable energy generation source.

To find out how to make your property a Net Zero Energy Building, contact us today!

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Revision of the FIT Program

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2012

Ontario’s completed revision of the FIT program has shown that energy generation and prices fell sharply, about 30% for solar power. This is in line with the worldwide trend of falling costs for global renewable energy. Much like Germany, a global solar energy leader, the decline follows the same trend with maturation.

Germany currently pays about half of what North American solar leaders such as Ontario currently pay per kWh. That is largely due to their gradual decline by reason of the development and maturation of the use of solar energy in the country.

While some argue against the increasing cost of electricity in Ontario because most believe its due to the renewable energy programs, the programs are still high in popularity. This is mostly because there is the prospect of over 43,000 jobs and an enormous amount of energy can be generated without harming the environment.

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How the Cost of Copper Affects the Solar Market

Posted by Admin on May 16, 2012

The cost of copper is approaching a 5-year high, resulting in the increase of solar costs due to the broad utilization of the material in the production and installation of panels, ranging in use from cabling to the production of panels themselves. The price is not expected to drop for a while, and when the size of these projects and the large amount of copper used within them is considered, the steadily increasing copper prices become a problem that the market cannot afford to overlook. To manage the rising costs and lessen future expenses, solar technology manufacturers and PV system developers have been trying to find alternatives in order to limit the amount of copper utilized in projects.

PV inverters account for almost 10 percent of solar system costs and require a noteworthy amount of copper cables, it is a reasonable first place to consider alternatives for when trying to find a solution. Some plans involve using aluminum instead of copper, and other manufacturers have engineered solutions that place the inverter farther away from the PV panels without increasing the amount of copper cabling. Further savings can be attained with a bipolar inverter, regardless of the conductor material.

Since the price of copper and the expansion of the solar market show no signs of slowing down, it is apparent manufactures and project developers need to explore new options for reducing project costs to stay competitive. There are various ways to reduce costs associated with copper and as a result the most successful companies in the industry will continue to attempt to utilize unique and inventive solutions that decrease the amount of copper needed.

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Holmes on Solar Homes

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2012

Mike Holmes released an article arguing why PV panel installation on roofs is a great idea for both homeowners and the government. He argues that because of the profit both see, along with the benefits of renewable energy as opposed to nonrenewable, the FIT and microFIT programs are “win-win”.

He approved of the efforts made by the Ontario government through the Green Energy Act and wondered why other provinces are not on-board. He also expressed great frustration with the OPA’ halt in issuing licenses until the government created a new program because of the large number of home and business owners interested in participating in this beneficial program.

He concluded by stating that the microFIT program “creates jobs. It helps the environment. It saves homeowners money on energy. It’s logical.”

If you are interested in installing solar panels on your roof and participating in microFIT, contact us.

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Siliken Shuts Down Plant in Windsor

Posted by Admin on May 11, 2012

The outside of the former company, Siliken, the Canadian solar tech manufacturer.

Siliken, one of the earliest renewable energy companies which manufacture solar technology, has closed their plant in Windsor, Ontario. They have laid off a total of 93 employees. Last year, the company was generating 1,200 solar panel modules a week and employed 120 people working three shifts at its peak.

“It is hard for an industry to survive a drought of 6 months, without new contracts and with uncertainty about the existing ones. The market for product is too small to sustain so many producers. We believe in the Ontario marketplace and the long-term commitment to the Green Energy Act, but must concentrate our efforts on other jurisdictions of North America with more volumes in the short term,” general manager Paco Caudet explained.

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