If you’re looking for examples of how partnerships and initiatives are expanding the possibilities of solar power, look north to Canada.
Some of the most interesting large-scale solar projects are happening there, from an innovative parking lot powered by solar canopies, to a project designed to power more than 500 homes in Ottawa.
Both of these Canadian projects are proof positive that it takes innovation and global cooperation to bring solar energy to more businesses and consumers, particularly in regions with less sunlight — and where solar has yet to truly take off.
A solar-powered parking lot
British Columbia may be best known for its dramatic vistas and sprawling national parks. And while it’s a prime place for enjoying the outdoors, this pristine Canadian province is also home to a budding technological revolution with engineers and scientists developing and testing breakthrough technologies.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), a large public university with five campuses spread out across the greater Vancouver area, is an early adopter in developing microgrids that use solar technology.
Back in 2007, BCIT worked with BC Hydro on a joint research initiative to design and develop Canada’s first Smart Power Microgrid. The goal was to build a secure and agile grid that could generate power and reduce the risk of blackouts while also providing the university with the flexibility to draw from a range of energy sources.
To bring the project to fruition, Canada’s Panasonic Eco Solutions was chosen to design and construct the integrated system of parking canopy structures, canopy-mounted solar panels, EV chargers, and energy sources. Designed to provide protection for the automobiles parked underneath, the solar-powered canopies also gather and store energy from the sun and then use it to fast-charge electric vehicles.
The team also designed and installed a 500 kWh energy storage and energy management system utilising Panasonic lithium-ion batteries and a bidirectional inverter. In a country where clean energy is lauded and solar industry leaders are taking technology and research to the next level, this innovative system won a Canadian Solar Industry Energy Management Award from the Canadian Solar Industries Association, verifying its potential to make a big impact in an emerging segment of the market.
How cooperation is powering more than 500 homes
Panasonic is also involved in many projects that give clients turnkey solutions for solar and renewable energy storage initiatives.
In the Kawartha Lakes region of south-central Ontario, the company teamed up with its US partner, Coronal Group, to construct a six-megawatt solar project in Balsam Lake. Employing Coronal’s customised financing platform, Panasonic was able to eliminate the need for any large upfront capital investments and help stabilise long-term energy costs.
Due to begin commercial operation toward the end of 2015, the installation will provide enough energy to the Ontario Power Authority’s grid system for approximately 550 homes, emphasising how viable renewable energy can be for the residential space, but also for commercial, industrial, municipal, and utility markets.
The goal of the Balsam Lake Project is to demonstrate the potential profitability of clean, renewable energy and serve as a model, inspiring entrepreneurs to drive an environment in which climate change is addressed proactively.
The whole world needs to get involved
The sun will always rise and set, so it’s time to take advantage of the readily available clean energy that solar provides. But for that revolution to truly take hold, it will take cooperation from all sides — companies and utilities, large and small, across varying markets and nations, must jump in with both feet.
Panasonic Eco Solutions and its partners are leading the way. With its willingness to work with other pioneers in the industry, Panasonic Eco Solutions has become a one-stop shop for expertise in solar photovoltaic engineering, construction, finance, and even long-term operation and management.
This post is sponsored by Panasonic Eco Solutions.
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