Blog

April 28, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Solar Energy within a National Energy Strategy

Panelists: David Brochu – Vice President Development, North America, Recurrent Energy F. Michael Cleland – Nexen Executive in Residence, Canada West Fountation Senator Grant Mitchell – Vice Char, Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, Liberal Senator, Alberta, Senate of Canada Jon Kieran – Director, Development, EDF, EN Canada Inc. Christian Vachon – President, Enerconcept Technologies CanSIA concluded with a panel discussion on the development of a national energy strategy. The panelists consisted of David Brochu of Recurrent Energy, F. Michael Cleland of Nexen, Senator Grant Mitchell, Jon Kieran of EDF EN and Christian Vachon of Enerconcept. All members of the panel had the opportunity to express their opinions on how we need to proceed as a nation towards developing our energy strategy. Four years ago Canada entered the Kyoto protocol in an effort to curb human-generated green house gas (GHG) emissions. Entering Kyoto was a move in the right direction for Canada, but ultimately we developed an unrealistic plan that we could

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April 18, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Integrating Solar Thermal with Geothermal

Thanks to the Photovoltaic Innovation Network, I participated in Solar Canada 2012 in Toronto, Ontario. This conference/exhibition is the largest national solar event in Canada, and is hosted by the Canadian Solar Industry Association (CanSIA). This year the event was quite large, in part due to the fact that it was CanSIA’s 20th anniversary. In this conference, I participated in some talks and visited some booths; one of the talks that was really interesting to me was about Solar thermal, Geo-thermal and the opportunity to integrate these two technologies together. Solar thermal installations consist of a solar thermal collector on the roof, a control unit with a pump and a potable water storage tank. The collector absorbs the light from the sun and converts it into heat. This heat is transferred to a liquid which circulates through the collector and down into the solar storage tank (fig-1). There are a lot of solar thermal projects within Canada (as they can

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March 31, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Solar PV Technologies and Innovations: Building an Export Market

Chair Ian MacLellan, President and CEO, Ubiquity Solar Inc. Panelists Nic Morgan, Co-founder and VP Business Development, Morgan Solar Jan Dressel, President & Managing Director, SPARQ Systems Inc Ray Morgan, Director Outreach, PV/Solar & Semiconductor, SEMI Americas Rafael Kleiman, Professor, Director, McMaster University Clemens van Zeyl, CEO & Co-Founder, ARDA Power Inc.   An interesting panel discussion took place on innovation. The panel discussed the meaning of innovation from different points of view. Everyone agreed that Solar is happening faster than everyone expected. In 2001, it was predicted that the world market for new installations in 2010 would be 2.8GW. In 2006, the prediction was increased to 5.5GW. The actual result for new installations in 2010 was 16.8GW. According to PV experience curve, PV module price is estimated to be as low as $0.15/W by 2050. For more information, check out the white paper issued by CanSIA here. Innovation trends for PV: Silicon is and will continue to be the

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March 17, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Community Power and Partnerships

Advantages of community ownership include: –        better support from citizens for solar and in particular incentive programs –        opportunity to educate citizens on renewable energy –        citizens who are more aware of their own energy usage and often undertake energy efficiency measures. –        51% of renewable energy in Germany is community owned (includes both direct ownership and cooperatives).  There are many RE coops in Europe, e.g. Belgian coop with 40,000 members. Jon Worren – partnership between developers and coops for “set-aside” in FIT2.0 will involve 51+% ownership by community group, but <50% voting rights for the community group, and creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle.  OPA wants the developers to manage it.  There are some big cultural differences between developers and community groups, seeing as this is new territory and the applications need to be sorted out very quickly, these partnerships are akin to “shot-gun” marriages. –        No further advice or decisions on how sound partnerships should be created was discussed by the expert panel

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March 3, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Utilities and PV Grid Connection

In Ontario, solar power makes the most economic sense when it is close to the source of consumption.  However, since the burden of transmission costs are directly on the consumer, companies have exploited government subsidies and the low cost of uninhabited land.  Despite this situation, the microFIT program has been enormously successful. The response of local distribution companies to the FIT program has been mixed, but it seems to be for reasons unrelated to the company’s desire or lack thereof to implement renewable energy technology.  For example, Toronto Hydro has connected 97% of all FIT applications demonstrating that the program is very achievable.  However, other LDCs (local distribution companies) have not done the same.  One reason for this is that he entire infrastructure of Ontario’s power network is very large, old and heavily regulated.  Just recently, transmission lines installed in 1926 have been replaced.  It’s not that old lines such as these don’t fulfill their intended function; it’s that in

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February 17, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Aboriginal-led Solar Projects

During the Solar Canada 2012 conference held in Toronto, I went to several talks and panel discussions on issues facing the solar industry in Canada.  Given the current energy policies in Ontario, most of the discussion was related to Ontario’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program.  There were many interesting discussions on Ontario’s FIT program, including the financial breakdown of the program, the long-term future, the political and social element of the FIT, but the discussion that I found most intriguing was the panel discussion on Aboriginal-led solar projects in Ontario. While the original FIT 1.0 program had some provisions to encourage Aboriginal communities to participate in the FIT by offering a higher off-take rate, the FIT 2.0 program has specific set asides and priority points for Aboriginal communities.   Given the limited capacity of the FIT 2.0 program, these priority points and set-asides have led many in the industry eager to partner with Aboriginal communities on solar installations. Before, I get into

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February 8, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Impacts of Ontario’s FIT 2.0 program

This plenary session was comprised of an introductory presentation and a panel discussion. The presentation provided an overview of the Ontario FIT program version 2.0, including the current status of the program, the benefits it offers to the province, as well as some of the challenges it faces. The following heated discussion invited several high level figures to participate. Among them were the current chair of the board of directors of CanSIA, as well as CEOs and technical VPs from several Ontario-based solar companies. Regarding the future of solar PV generation opportunities in Canada, the introductory presentation pointed out that: For Canada, most provinces continue to take a cautious approach regarding PV. Part of the reason can be understood by the abundance of other natural electricity resources such as hydro. In future, some provinces may be able to justify uptake in solar PV generation if solar PV costs move closer to available resource options, and if PV can meet power

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January 24, 2013

CanSIA 2012-Smart Grid Breakout Session

At CanSIA Solar Canada in Toronto I attended a breakout session that focused on developing grid technologies for the integration of solar PV and other renewables. The speakers covered a broad range of topics, including weather forecasting for solar load balancing (Rhonda Wright-Hilbig, IESO), economic modelling of renewable penetration (Justin Malecki, Clearsky Advisors), and PV-pilot projects in isolated communities (PJ Fernandex, ABB and Scott Henneberry, Schneider Electric). Rhonda Wright-Hilbig started off by discussing how the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) sees the Ontario grid evolving over the next few years and how they will meet the challenges created by these changes. Of note, they expect the complete retirement of coal powered electricity by 2015, with the Ontario Power Generation shutting down three coal fired plants last year alone. To compensate for the loss in generation capacity nuclear, hydro, natural gas and solar are seeing increased deployment, with the expectation that Ontario will hit 3 GW of solar PV generation, out

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January 17, 2013

CanSIA 2012-State of the Solar Industry in Canada

Hello everyone! I was recently in Toronto attending Solar Canada 2012, a conference on the Canadian solar industry. The conference was put on by CanSIA “a national trade association that represents approximately 650 solar energy companies throughout Canada”. The conference featured panels of industry leaders discussing issues such as policy, market trends, and the future of the solar energy in Canada. I will be giving a brief summary of one of the talks I attended, which highlighted the current state of the solar industry. Panelists included Mike Crawley, President of International Power Canada, Doug Urban, Managing Director of Hanwha Solar Canada Inc. ,Mike Dilworth, Vice President and Country Manager of SunEdison Canada, Kerry Adler, Director, President and Chief Executive Officer, of SkyPower Global and Terry Olynyk, Director of Renewable Energy, PCL Constructors. Their discussion covered what the solar industry looks like in Ontario today, the issues that it is currently facing, both financially and politically, as well as what the future

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January 9, 2013

Towards low-cost and sustainable dye-sensitized solar cells

Among various solar cell technologies, dye sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) have attracted widespread commercial and academic interest due to their relatively high efficiency and low production cost [1-5]. In DSSCs, dye molecules undergo optical excitation, followed by rapid electron transfer to TiO2.  The ionized dye molecules are then reduced by iodide ions (I–) in the electrolyte, which form triiodide ions (I3–). The counter electrode uses electrons that flow from the photoelectrode, through the external circuit, to reduce triiodide ions back to iodide, completing the cycle [6, 7]. The dye sensitizer plays a critical role in the light harvesting. Recently, the highest power conversion efficiency of DSSCs based on the Zn-complex dye has achieved 12.3% [8]. But typically ruthenium based complexes are well known to get higher efficiencies. Ruthenium is a rare and potentially toxic heavy metal and ruthenium complexes are expensive. So, there is a need to develop new precious metal-free dye sensitizers that can replace the traditional ruthenium sensitizer.

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