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Our solar panels are bigger than yours

by Archives January 20, 2009

Concordia was bolstering its green credentials last week when it announced the new John Molson School of Business (JMSB) will house the largest installation of photovoltaic solar panels in Canada.
According to the university, the building will be more than just an energy consumer, but also a contributor to the electricity distribution network. The project’s 300 square metres of solar panels will produce 100 MW-h per year of energy, according to the Solar Buildings Research Network.
Despite the fact there are already some examples of buildings making use of renewable energy, Josef Ayoub, energy planning advisor at CanmetENERGY, said this is the very first case where the concept is taken this far, being integrated from the ground-up.
CanmetENERGY, a department of Natural Resources Canada, invested over $600,000 for the design, development and acquisition of the installation’s equipment.
The technology behind photovoltaic panels allow for the instant conversion of energy into ready to use electricity. Part of the energy will also be converted into heat. That heat will warm up the air coming into the building through the ventilation system. Still, energy experts working on the project said the panels are not enough to supply for the whole building.
Ayoub estimates the panels will only represent between five and 10 per cent of all the energy needed for a building the size of the new JMSB.
“It has nothing to do with reaching a target of performance,” he said, but with combining research that shows you can combine technology with efficient innovation.
Despite contributing to only a fraction of the electricity for JMSB, the panels will prove to be useful for heating. Brendan O’Neill, the project engineer, calls the installation an economical solution that’s competitive in terms of pricing with natural gas.
Even so, this type of installation is far from being able to compete with Hydro-Quebec in terms of pricing.
In the spirit of promoting public awareness and showcasing the installation, the JMSB lobby will have an energy display monitor to show in real-time the amount of energy being harvested from the sun.

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