Solar Energy arrives at the University of Ottawa

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

There are a bunch of little known facts that are true about our campus; one of them being that we use enough energy on campus every 5 days to send a Delorian back in time. And for all you poor fools who have never seen the Back to the Future Trilogy, let's just say that's enough power to run 10,529 homes all year long.

Little known fact #2 - heat is cheap and electricity is expensive.
This isn't that much of a secret if you have to pay your own hydro bills but the University spends 4 times more money on electricity than it does natural gas. The real problem is that electrical consumption keeps going up... I mean way up.

In 2010 the University of Ottawa used 1,000,000 m3 less natural gas than it did in 1993 (all this while the campus has almost doubled in size). But electrical consumption during that same period has gone up over 20,000,000 kWh (about a 40% increase since 1993).

Little known fact #3 - we installed solar panels on the Sports Complex
Karin Hinzer, a research prof here at the U of O, obtained a research grant to analyze the efficiency of solar panels. Her team purchased some solar panels late last year and they are slowly bing installed on the Sports Complex. No joke, you could go and see them for your self at any time.

I don't want to steal her thunder some I am simply going to direct you to her website. It is worth a browse... especially since you can see some pictures of the artificial suns that her students are using to test solar cells.

And, one other thing I should mention, the amount of energy that the solar panels are generating is about enough to run the lights in the parking garage next door. These panels definitely aren't going to save us from our energi-voric lifestyles. But they certainly are a start.

The University is looking to install a much larger system sometime in the near future. No dates for sure until this "economic crisis" has passed.


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