Ex hopes new solar cells set shining example for city rooftops

City of Toronto Councillor Pam McConnell, representing the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) National Board of Directors, and the Honourable Bev Oda, MP (Durham) representing the Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources Canada, announced on Aug. 22 the funding of $250,000 from the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) to Exhibition Place for a feasibility study and field test of the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system in Canada. Located on the rooftop of the Horse Palace, the 100 kilowatt solar installation is funded also by the City of Toronto’s Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.

“The solar PV system is a key element in Exhibition Place’s goal of becoming energy self-sufficient by 2010. The project will provide us with the information needed to expand the system to 1.5-2 megawatts (15 to 20 times larger than the pilot),” said Dianne Young, CEO and General Manager of Exhibition Place. “Other components of our energy self-sufficiency plan include North America’s first urban wind turbine; a tri-generation system in the Direct Energy Centre; a hydrogen re-fuelling station; a geothermal heat pump to be installed this fall; a green roof, and a variety of building retrofits.”

Designed by Carmanah Technologies in partnership with Exhibition Place, the pilot system is comprised of four sub-systems, each using a different combination of solar, inverter and mounting technologies. The electrical performance of each of the sub-systems will be separately monitored and compared, allowing Exhibition Place to determine the best overall combination of technologies for use in future projects. The public will be able to monitor the system’s details on a website that is being created by Carmanah. The website will show the system through cameras on the roof and track the energy output of each solar array.

“Through the Green Municipal Fund, the new Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to clean air, clean water, clean land, and clean energy. The government is showing also its dedication to combining community support with stronger accountability and transparency practises,” said Minister Oda. “Investments based on GMF feasibility studies, field tests and pilot projects allow project partners to be confident that taxpayers’ dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.”

The Government of Canada has endowed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities with $550 million to establish and manage the Green Municipal Fund. The Fund supports partnerships and leveraging of both public and private sector funding to reach higher standards of air, water and soil quality, and climate protection.

“This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of solar technologies in an urban environment,” said Councillor Pam McConnell, representing FCM. “In addition, it will reduce annual electrical consumption by 120,000 kilowatts per year and greenhouse gas emissions by 115 tonnes per year, saving Exhibition Place more than $10,000 per year in hydro costs.”

The City of Toronto, through the BBP provided a $600,000 zero interest loan and technical expertise to Exhibition Place to get the PV project off the ground. “The Better Buildings Partnership assists organizations that are interested in reducing their emissions and energy use. To date, the City has assisted 500 buildings with energy retrofits through the BBP,” said Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone, Chair, Exhibition Place and Roundtable on the Environment. “The City is leading the way in environmental initiatives and encourages other businesses to follow suit.”

“All parties are to be applauded for their role in this project. We need to ensure the push for energy conservation and research into green energy continues,” commented Deputy Mayor Sandra Bussin, Toronto Atmospheric Fund board of directors. “A great partnership was formed through each level of government through this project, and if we continue to work together and support these projects, more can be done to reduce our energy use and emissions.”

FCM has been the national voice of municipal governments since 1901. It is dedicated to improving the quality of life in communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal government.