Clean Power unnamed-42

Published on January 15th, 2014 | by Guest Contributor

3

Huge Thermal Solar Potential In Canada

January 15th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Reviving Gaia
by Roy L. Hales

unnamed-42

Back in the early 1970‘s, Canada led the world in the development of Solar Thermal energy. Then the oil embargo ended, prices came down, and the incentives and grants dried up. More than a decade passed before what had once been Canadian technology resurfaced in Germany. It became part of that nation’s “energiewende,” a state mandated green energy policy that has transformed Germany into the world’s foremost producer of solar energy. Yet, according to Canada’s only NABCEP Certified Solar Thermal Installer, James Smyth, there is more potential for solar thermal technology on the West Coast.

“Looking around the street where I live, I can see that every house could gain by adopting Solar Thermal energy,” he said.

Though his is the only house that presently has solar panels, James believes this will change.

unnamed-51

“I have developed a new system at Camosun College that has an immediate payback under the Solar Colwood/CRD grant program,” James said. “Sales of this Thermal system are getting pretty good and I am now working on a solar heating system with a similar payback. Most thermal systems are in the $8000 to $10,000 installed. My new system is $5000 installed so this has been a game changer for the market.”

Thanks to a $3,000 Solar Thermal grant only available in Southern Vancouver Island, the average CamoSun Solar Thermal customer can receive an immediate reduction of about $264 a year on his energy costs. (That is assuming they finance the installation over 10 years.)

People living outside this area might experience a slight increase, at least up until BC Hydro increases their rates next April.

A $5,000 investment in solar nets a better return than a 2% GIC. While the GIC would produce around $8,000 in 20 years, solar makes $18,000. The returns get even higher when calculated over 30 year.

James has been installing solar for eight years, but his association with Victoria’s Camosun College began after he obtained his North American Board of Certified Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar Thermal Certification.

He and fellow instructor Darren Vaux developed and taught the college’s Solar training curriculum James & Darren were given Camosun College President’s award for their work on the solar program.

With the help of their students – and donations from companies like Apricus, Rheem, Viessmann, Caleffi, and Pacific Solar Smart Homes – they also built Canada’s largest Solar Thermal training lab at Camosun College

“The CamoSun system performed well during November/December, but once outside temperatures dropped below -5/-6 we lost more heat that we gained,” he said. “So we decided to drain the system, rather than risk damaging the collector.”

Now that the CamoSun Solar Thermal System has become a company, Smyth recommends customers drain their system during winter, “In applications where a home has south facing roof top, that is not obstructed by shading during the winter months, the system has the potential to gain some solar energy. However, the collectors should be mounted at 45 degrees or more to collect this energy when the sun is considerably lower in the sky. If the collectors are mounted at 24 degrees (typical 4-12 pitch) then they will not collect any significant solar energy if the sun does come out.

“I have done some measurements and the loss of performance on the CamoSun system is at best about 13% of its annual potential. At today’s utility rates this is about $40 of energy or about $10 a month. It does not seem practical to risk freezing the system and damaging the collectors for $40. This system was designed to provide home owners access to great solar gains and costs much less than traditional glycol or drain-back systems that are designed to work all year.

“I can still install glycol or drain-back systems if the home owners want to access the $40 savings on Solar energy during the winter months, but the truth is that we don’t see much solar during the winter so it doesn’t make financial sense to me to build a system that costs twice as much and only gains 13% more.”

James has installed around 30 of the 38 installations to date in the Solar Colwood program. He has also installed systems as far north as Cortez Island, Gambier Island, Lasqueti Island and Cobble Hill in off-grid applications. Pacific Solar has also installed systems in Edmonton Alberta, Vancouver BC and works with Pro Eco Energy to provide this technology across the rest of BC and Alberta.

unnamed-1

He also installs Apircus’ solar evacuated tube system, which performs well in sub zero temperatures, it is a good choice for home owners/businesses that want to capture the winter solar energy. Under specific demands like a Laundromat, Carwash, hotel or some other large building that requires a large quantity of water during the winter months, solar thermal can make a lot of financial sense (or cents.)

BC Hydro’s electricity rates are among the lowest in North America, so it is unlikely that the government will set up incentives like you see in Ontario (where they are trying to find an alternative to Nuclear power). Yet James believes solar thermal technology could provide up to 60% of the province’s annual hot water needs and 100% during the summer months. Those numbers are similar to what is coming out of Germany and would result in lower energy bills as well as less greenhouse gas emissions.

He explained that a typical home uses, “25% of its total energy for hot water and 50% for space heating, the last 25% is for lights, outlets etc.”

(All images courtesy CamoSun  Solar Thermal. Photo at top of page:  PV/Thermal installation in Colwood, The four larger collectors are Thermal collectors and the 12 smaller collectors – James Smyth photo) 
 
Get CleanTechnica’s 1st (completely free) electric car report → “Electric Cars: What Early Adopters & First Followers Want.”
 
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

 

Tags: , , , , ,


About the Author

is many, many people. We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. :D



  • Georgia gal

    A friend of mine did removals of solar thermal systems during the ’80s and all of them suffered from pinpoint leaks. Once the piping had leaked, you couldn’t replace just the damaged portion, so the whole unit failed.
    Has this risk been addressed in the newer technology?

    • sambar

      Evacuated tube heaters don’t use the small tubes of fluid and are much more reliable and efficient. New materials have improved the technology.

  • Alex.

    That’s perfect.

Back to Top ↑
  • Advertisements

  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Cool Cleantech Events

    Low Voltage Electrification Event, April 25-27. Detroit, Michigan (US)
    Delve deep into the benefits and challenges associated with EV power supply.

    Offshore Wind Market Development USA, May 11-12, Boston, Massachusetts (US)
    Network and establish your business in one of North America’s largest energy industries.

    Energy Storage USA, June 15-16, San Diego, California (US)
    Only event in the United States focused exclusively on the commercialization of storage.

    More details are on: Cleantech Events.

  • Advertisement

  • CleanTechnica Electric Car Report

    Electric Cars Early Adopters First Followers
  • Tesla Model 3 Review by EVANNEX

    Tesla Model 3 Review from EVANNEX
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Video

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model 3 Exclusive Pictures

    Tesla Model 3 Video
  • Tesla Model X Review #1 (Video)

    Tesla Model X Review from new owners Zach Shahan
  • Tesla Model X Review #2 (Pictures)

    Tesla Model X Review from Kyle Field
  • Tesla Model S Long-Term Review

    Tesla Model S Long Term Review from Kyle Field
  • Nissan LEAF Long-Term Review

    Nissan LEAF Long Term Review from Cynthia Shahan
  • Interview with Michael Liebreich

    Interview with Michael Liebreich
  • Interview with Akon (Teslas & Solar)

    Interview with Akon Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Solar Power Africa
  • Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany

    Interview with Dr Nawal Al-Hosany
  • Interview with Gro Brundtland

    Gro Brundtland
  • Interview with President of Iceland

    President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
  • Interview with Nick Sampson

    Faraday Future VP Nick Sampson
  • Interview with Dipal Barua

    Dipal Barua 1st ZFEP WInner
  • Interview with Jonathon Porritt

    Jonathon Porritt
  • Interview with Clint Wilder

    Interview with Clint Wilder
  • Interviews with Solar Impulse Pilots

    Bertrand Piccard Andre Borschberg
  • Check out more CleanTechnica Videos.

  • Join The Solar Revolution!

    Edison-solar-energy solar-energy-spill-nice-day
  • Cost of Solar Panels

    cost-of-solar-down
  • Search the IM Network


Shares