Tag: solar panels

Solar Power Generates Clean Energy in Canada

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Concern for Climate Change, Jobs and Other Incentives Spurs Growth

From large solar farms connected to the electricity grid, to stand alone solar powered homes and small businesses, Canada is reaching for the sun as a source of energy.

“The opportunity is great right now for expanding solar energy,” says Elizabeth McDonald, president of the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA) in a telephone interview. “Concern about global climate change propels the expansion of solar energy and so will the creation of local green jobs.”

McDonald also points to government incentives like the Ontario Power Authority’s Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP) and provisions in Ontario’s Green Energy Act as spurring the creation of solar farms hooking up to the power grid. The fact that solar electricity is being purchased for Ontario’s grid at $0.42 per kilowatt is an attractive incentive for both larger scale and smaller scale solar producers. That’s almost seven times the $0.06 KWh price paid to conventional generators. That will soon double when the Green Energy Act’s Fit-in-Tariff of $0.82 per kilowatt is implemented.

 

CanSIA’s 400 members include large and small solar energy providers. They are at the forefront of Canada’s ever-growing solar energy field. According to McDonald the amount of solar-powered electricity has expanded from 37.5 Megawatts (MW) produced in 2008 to 100 MW in 2009. By the end of 2010, it is expected that solar powered electricity will increase to between 200 and 300 MW.

Solar Farms Produce Clean Renewable Energy

McDonald reports most of the larger scale solar energy projects are in the province of Ontario but solar energy projects can be seen across Canada. One project west of Ottawa, Ontario will place 300,000 solar panels on a 200-acre farm to generate 20 megawatts of electricity enough to power 7,000 homes during peak hours.

Off-Grid Solar a Way to Energy Self-Sufficiency

Solar energy farms contributing to the power grid are not the only way Canadians are going solar. Smaller scale solar projects are increasingly popping up on roofs of small businesses, homes and institutional buildings across Canada. Examples range from hotel rooftops to innovative solar-powered communities like Drake Landing in Okotoks, Alberta 15 minutes south of Calgary.

Wash ‘N’ Go car wash in Toronto’s west end added solar vacuum tube collectors installed by Solarco, a Toronto-based solar power company. The solar collectors preheat water reducing the amount of conventional electricity and reducing energy costs. The project was supported by Natural Resources Canada’s Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI) program.

In Ontario, some homeowners are looking to solar energy to meet or supplement their energy needs. Government rebate programs offered by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure help offset some of the conversion costs.

Renewable Energy Community Groups Spread the Word About Solar Energy

“Having the start up money to go solar still is the number one challenge facing homeowners,” says Susan Hirst, Midland, Ontario and a spokesperson for Simcoe Huronia Association for Renewable Energy (SHARE).

SHARE is helping to educate their community about the benefits of renewable energy. During the summer of 2009, SHARE hosted a tour of renewable energy projects. One of the stops was a local home that was built to be energy self-sufficient. Solar energy panels provide water heating and space heating. As a result of the conversion to solar energy and other innovative energy conservation measures, the home meets its energy needs without being attached to the electricity grid.

SHARE is also working to establish a Community Renewable Energy co-operative that in time may give rise to solar energy being generated by place solar panels on the community’s roofs.

These days Here Comes the Sun, the old Beatles hit, could easily be the theme song as the sun’s power becomes an integral part of Canada’s energy mix.

Use Solar Power for Home and Garden

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Harness the Sun’s Energy for Household Devices

Products that use solar power are not limited to solar panels anymore. There are many useful items that tap into the sun’s energy and can help cut energy costs.

In this day and age of environmental consciousness, harnessing the sun’s energy is an excellent way to go green while cutting basic energy costs. While installing solar panels on a house is one way to accomplish this, it is also expensive. However, using the sun for power is not limited to putting up panels. Here is a description of solar power, as well as some inexpensive product ideas that tap into solar energy.

How Solar Power Energy Works

Solar power works in two ways. It can be converted into electricity or harnessed as a heat source. In the case of electricity, a solar panel made of photovoltaic cells is placed in direct sunlight. Sunlight is made of both waves and particles, which are called photons. When photons hit the photovoltaic cells of a solar panel, electrons are knocked loose inside. This creates an electrical current, which can then be tapped into for electrical use.

Solar power is also used for heating purposes. For instance, it is common to heat pools and hot water heaters using solar power. Thermal plates are used to capture heat from sunlight. Their temperature capacity depends on the items being heated. Swimming pool thermal plates have a lower temperature capacity, while medium temperature plates would be used for hot water heaters. The heat that is collected on the plates is then transferred to the water.

Solar Powered Batteries and Chargers

Batteries are used in a multitude of devices every day. Typically, when they die, they are disposed of and new ones are put to use. By using rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger, batteries can be used and re-used, decreasing the amount of chemical waste created. Solar chargers work by harnessing sunlight on a small panel, which is then converted into electricity. Batteries are placed in the unit and are charged with the converted energy. Solar power battery chargers are available for all sizes and types of batteries.

There are also solar chargers for products such as cell phones, laptops, and cameras. These may be useful for those who spend time camping and backpacking, or people who simply want to get off the grid. A solar charger can be placed in direct sunlight for six to eight hours, and then can be plugged into a device such as a cell phone. The energy is transferred from the charger into the phone battery, thus operating solely on solar power.

Outdoor Solar Power Lights Work Well for a Home

Outdoor lights easily lend themselves to solar power. The lights are able to capture sunlight during the day and store the energy in a rechargeable battery. As the sun goes down, the battery begins powering the attached LED light bulb. The lights stay on until sunrise when the cycle begins again. This is an easy, reliable way to light an outdoor path, highlight a water feature, or power a motion sensor light.

Solar Gadgets and Gizmos

There are a plethora of other gadgets that use solar power. A solar powered radio is great for camping trips, as are solar lanterns and flashlights. The solar shower has been popular for years, capturing heat inside a bag to warm water for a comfortable outdoor shower. For an interesting art project, there are solar print kits available. Objects can be placed onto light-sensitive paper, then removed and dipped into tap water to develop. This is yet another fascinating way to harness the sun’s rays.

Solar energy will always be a clean, quiet, readily available alternative to electricity and carbon. People are becoming more interested in decreasing their carbon footprint, and utilizing the power of the sun is an excellent first step.