Ontario Solar Power could match US Nuclear Power
Queen’s University Applied Sustainability Research Group located in Kingston, Canada comes out with two studies that claim solar power in southeastern Ontario can be created in abundance. The natural question is how much abundance? The answer is mind-boggling. Southeastern Ontario has the potential to produce almost as much power as all the nuclear reactors in the United States! Queen’s mechanical engineering professor Joshua Pearce is the first person to find out the astounding possibilities of the region’s solar energy potential. He says, “The number is enormous. Solar can no longer be laughed off as something that can only power your cottage.”
Professor Pearce was surprised by how many gigawatts could be produced.
The researchers from the university in Kingston, Ontario is of the view if they can mount solar panels on the rooftops and on those areas that are economically unproductive they can produce enormous amount of solar power. They have already marked 365,000 hectares of land in southeastern Ontario suitable for solar farms. That amounts to about 7.6 per cent of the 48,000-square-kilometre wedge of land between Toronto, Ottawa and the Quebec-Ontario border.
So many gigawatts of solar power can be produced but Prof Pearce still claims, “We came up with enormous numbers and we were being conservative. There are about 95 gigawatts of potential power just in southeastern Ontario — that shows there is massive potential.” It is needless to say that Professor Pearce specializes in solar photovoltaic materials and applied sustainability.
According to one study, if some of the roof tops in southeastern Ontario were covered with solar panels, they could generate five gigawatts, or about five per cent of all of Ontario’s energy. The study paid attention to the shading and orientation of the roofs. This study will be published in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems.
Professor Pearce further pushes his point, “To put this in perspective, all the coal plants in all of Ontario produce just over six gigawatts. The sun doesn’t always shine, so if you couple solar power with other renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and biomass, southeastern Ontario could easily cover its own energy needs.”
Canada is a vast country and has plenty of land. If that land can be utilized for generating solar power, it can produce substantial amount of clean and green energy. This second study will appear in May issue of the journal Solar Energy. It studied the barren, rocky, non-farmable areas near electrical grids and arrived at a conclusion that it has the potential to produce 90 gigawatts.
Professor Pearce claims, “Nuclear power for all of the United States is about 100 gigawatts. We can produce 90 on barren land with just solar in this tiny region, so we are not talking about small potatoes.”
The researchers identified 25 million square metres of shade-free, south-facing roofs in southeastern Ontario suitable for solar panels. They say if high-efficiency panels were installed on all the roofs, they could provide 24 per cent of current peak Ontario power demand, and 157 per cent of peak demand in southeastern Ontario.
Professor Pearce is preparing the ground for solar power. He comes out with real facts for the policy makers of the country. He is also on the look out for the possible solar farm locations for developers.
The government is creating conducive environment for the clean and green energy. Ontario’s new Green Energy Act offers feed-in tariffs, or FITs incentive. This FITs has generated “an enormous stampede” by solar companies to set up shop in Ontario. Prof Pearce says, “It’s opened up the market.” Pearce said, if one or two known solar power manufacturers set up their plants in Canada, more will be tempted to do the same and it will lead to generating thousands of manufacturing jobs. “They’ll cluster together like the semi-conductor manufacturers in California, and we’ll be in great shape.”