Solar energy production has enormous potential in southeastern Ontario: study

Apr 14, 2010

Solar power in southeastern Ontario has the potential to produce almost the same amount of power as all the nuclear reactors in the United States, according to two studies conducted by the Queen's University Applied Sustainability Research Group located in Kingston, Canada.

These studies, led by Queen's mechanical engineering professor Joshua Pearce, are the first to explore the region's potential. Professor Pearce was surprised by how many gigawatts could be produced.

"We came up with enormous numbers and we were being conservative. There about 95 gigawatts of potential just in southeastern Ontario - that shows there is massive potential," says Professor Pearce, who specializes in solar photovoltaic materials and applied sustainability.

One study, accepted for publication in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, discovered that if choice roof tops in southeastern Ontario were covered with solar panels, they could produce five gigawatts, or about five per cent of all of Ontario's energy. The study took into account roof orientation and shading.

"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 such as wind, hydro and biomass, southeastern Ontario could easily cover its own energy needs," Professor Pearce says.

A second study, published in May issue of the journal Solar Energy, looked at land in southeastern Ontario that could be used for solar farms. The study considered land with little economic value - barren, rocky, non-farmable areas near electrical grids - and concluded it has the potential to produce 90 gigawatts.

"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," Professor Pearce says.

The professor conducted the studies to provide policy makers solid numbers on solar energy potential, as well as find possible solar farm locations for developers.

Also contributing to the studies were Queen's civil engineering student Lindsay Wiginton and mechanical engineering student Ha Nguyen.

Explore further: Renewable energy companies use new clout in statehouses

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User comments : 7

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gmurphy
not rated yet Apr 14, 2010
The real trouble with renewables is storing the intermittant energy. If we could do that, the global energy problem would be a thing of the past.
rgw
5 / 5 (2) Apr 14, 2010
If we don't do it, human civilization will be a thing of the past.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Apr 14, 2010
The real trouble with renewables is storing the intermittant energy. If we could do that, the global energy problem would be a thing of the past.
I think this is largely a non-issue, even with already-existing technology. My personal favorite, is flywheels:

http://en.wikiped...eristics
Lord_jag
5 / 5 (1) Apr 14, 2010
Nah. Just think of all the appliances that you already have that can regulate how much electricity it uses... Air conditioners, battery chargers, heaters, water heaters... all can be electric and all can let their set point slide a little if the electricity prices climb.

So.... this hour the wind dies down... Energy prices rise slightly and 80% of peoples air conditioners allow the temp to climb 2 degrees. Wind picks up the next hour, and the AC clicks on and cools it 2 degrees cooler than set point.

I've left my hot water heater unplugged for a week when I went away and came back to still having rather hot water. I don't need to maintain temp during peak hours...
alis
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2010
Guys after watching and hearing this discussion about climate change and global warming we are missing the fact that some day for sure oil reserves are going to be exhausted. So what we are going to do then? Wind energy definitely can’t replace the fossil fuels. Nuclear power is too dangerous and can fall into wrong hands.I feel that solar energy if fully tapped can be used. Moreover a lot of job opportunities can be created as well. Yesterday I did a little bit of research about the solar power potential on FreeCleanSolar.com and found out very nice info. I am fully convinced that solar is the future. Any comments??
charlesmartin
not rated yet Apr 26, 2010
These panels are efficient enough to pay for their purchase price in 5-7 years of power production. This means you are essentially getting three to eight years of free power in the engineered lifetime of a solar panel. I got this info from www. FreeCleanSolar.com, a pretty neat website on Solar Photvoltic technology
COCO
not rated yet May 04, 2010
lots to say about nothing here - Nukes are safest - these people have access to homegrown technology yet insist on morphing into hippies with their lack of eco dev - sure we could live like that - but it cannot happen until we all change - I am too old for this sophmoric sophistry to be impressed.

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