August 28, 2006

Solar energy project unveiled at Toronto's Exhibition Place

The largest solar photovoltaic pilot project in Canada was officially opened on August 22 on the rooftop of the Horse Palace at Toronto's Exhibition Place. The 100-kilowatt (kW) solar installation is part of Exhibition Place's plan to become energy self-sufficient by 2010. It is forecast to reduce electricity consumption by 120,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 115 tonnes annually, saving Exhibition Place about $10,000 per year in hydro costs. After the pilot testing phase is completed, Exhibition Place intends to build a full-scale, 1.5 to 2-megawatt (MW) system.

"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," she added.

Designed by Carmanah Technologies, of Victoria, BC 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 Web site that is being created by Carmanah. The Web site will show the system through cameras on the roof and track the energy output of each solar array.

Funding for the project has been provided through a $250,000 grant from the Green Municipal Fund. Toronto's Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) also provided Exhibition Place a $600,000 zero-interest loan and technical expertise to get the PV project off the ground. A further contribution came from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.

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