September 6, 2004

Utility starts up Toronto's largest solar power generation system

Toronto Hydro-Electric System (THES) has just launched the city's largest industrial solar power generation system. The pilot project uses solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity for use at the company's service centre in downtown Toronto.

The solar power system is capable of generating up to 36 kilowatts (kW) of "green" electricity - enough energy to meet the needs of four or five residential homes. Each of the 189 solar panels, or modules, can generate 190 watts of electricity. The panels contain no moving parts, require no maintenance to operate, and do not emit radiation, sound or waste.

THES calculates that using solar power as part of the service centre's energy mix will displace the emission of nearly 38 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually. It will provide approximately 12% of the electrical power needed to run the lighting system at the Commissioners Street operation, which serves Toronto's south end from the Humber River to the Pickering town line. The 12-acre building is home to 800 employees, including engineering, construction, warehousing, planning, skilled electrical trades and technical staff, and also houses the company's "green" fleet of 650 alternative fuel vehicles.

"With the successful launch of this pilot project we are providing Torontonians with an opportunity to see a working commercial-style solar installation in operation," said THES president and CEO David O'Brien. "This project gives us another tremendous opportunity to showcase alternative energy sources and to reinforce the importance of creating a conservation culture," he added.

The launch of the pilot project is the product of a partnership between THES, which assumed turnkey design build and project management responsibility for the project, and Sanyo Canada, provider of the solar panels for the system. Xantrex provided the inverters needed to transform the sun's rays into consumable power, while Phantom Electron Corporation was the installing contractor.

"We sourced the highest efficiency commercially available solar modules from Sanyo and fast-tracked the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) rating for the Canadian market to meet our customer's timeline," said Jack Simpson, director of energy solutions for THES. "With project support from our subcontractors, Phantom Electron Corporation, Sanyo Canada, A Tam and Associates and Langford and Associates, we were able to complete this project in an impressive three months from concept approval to full system commissioning," he noted.

This is the second green energy generation system undertaken by Toronto Hydro in the past two years. In late 2003, THES - in partnership with WindShare, a community-based co-operative - unveiled North America's first urban wind turbine on the shores of Lake Ontario at Exhibition Place. The total combined output of the solar power system and wind turbine is enough to power up to 300 homes.

More information is available from Mark Burton, communications and public affairs, Toronto Hydro, 416/542-3100, ext 30131.

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