Solar Panels on OCAD’s Sharp Centre for Design

By: Steven, Leo, & Guia (Group #4)

Like many institutions, OCAD shares the need for energy to power numerous lighting systems, powering laptops, charging cellphones and many more. These are all systems made for the convenience and comfort of OCAD students and staff. After researching about different forms of renewable energy, we have decided that it’s about time OCAD install solar panels on top of the Sharp Centre for Design.

Why Solar Panels?
The roof of the Sharp Centre is the perfect location for installing solar panels. It is not overshadowed by any building and thus, has unblocked access to daylight all year-round. There are a lot of unused space aside from some ventilation and tubing systems that run in different directions.
In addition, the surplus of energy that is harvested through the solar panels could be sold back to Toronto’s energy grid for 42 cents per kW.

What are Solar Panels?
Solar panels consist of interconnected solar cells, arranged on a flat surface, that captures energy from the sun to produce heat and electricity . It is the most popular form of renewable energy and comes in two types: solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. Solar thermal uses sunlight to heat up water, which then produces steam and turns a turbine to produce electricity. Solar photovoltaic collects solar radiation and actively converts this energy to electricity. For this particular solar panel installation, we suggest the use of solar photovoltaic systems.

Technical Specifications:
OCAD's Table Top Dimensions : 31 m wide by 84 m long
Total Surface Area: 2604 square metres
Estimated Usable Surface Area (minus the walk-space, ventilation & tubing systems) : 1302 square metres

We contacted numerous solar energy companies and here are those that were kind enough to take our questions:

1. Eco Alternative Energy
What is the energy capacity generated by one panel?
Each 1.58 by 0.81 m panel will generate approximately 170 W/hour and costs $1100.
Would snow be a problem?
No, this is one of the reasons why the panels are tilted at a 20 to 34 degree angle. The snow should be able to slide off the panels. Although it is recommended that snow be brushed off the panels after a heavy snowfall.
How are they installed?
Each panel weighs 34.1 pounds or 15.5 kg. Crossbars are installed together with support beams all along the roof. Thus, the wright of the panels would be evenly distributed all across the roof.

2. Carmanah (Richard Wayte)
What is the energy capacity generated by one panel?
Each 1.5 m by 2.5 m panel will generate up to 250 W/hour and costs $1000 without installation.
Would snow be a problem?
Light snowfalls can easily slide off the angled panels while heavy snowfalls would require a brush off. Nevertheless, the issue is not as big as it seems since the amount of energy generated during winter time is at its lowest. Hence the loss is not as great.
Would OCAD be able to support the weight of the panels?
Richard Wayte from Carmanah stated that during his entire career, he has never encountered such a problem. Each panel weighs from 30-50 pounds. The issue however might be about how the panels are fastened to the building. One way would be to use a weight to support the panels. The other way is to use an anchor and penetrate the roof. This, says Wayte, might not be feasible everywhere, and not every client has agreed to that.

3. Solera
What is the energy capacity generated by one panel?
A panel generating 200W is usually 1.319 by 0.894 metres, with a thickness of 35 millimeters. For a grid type setup, which includes insulation, cables, the panels and the installation, it would cost $12 500 per kW installed. For a panel that is 30 degrees tilted, 3kWhours will be produced per kW installed. This makes approximately 600 Watts hours/day for each 200 Watts panels.
Would snow be a problem?
Snow should not be a problem, at least not for Southern Ontario. They should be sloped to 30-40 degrees and if snow covers the panel, it will usually melt from the heat. Moreover, the panels are built to resist hurricanes in the States. They are covered with a layer of thick glass and hence very resistant and strong.
Would OCAD be able to support the weight of the panels?
Buildings are engineered to be able to support any kinds of weight, so that should not be a problem.

Of all three companies, we decided to go with the Carmanah group due to the extensive size of their panels for a reasonable price. The Carmanah group is also responsible for the solar installation on the Horse Palace building at Exhibition Place.

Total Cost & Break Even Point
Using the Horse Palace Exhibition as a comparison with our proposal, their Solar PV Project costs around $1.1 million for 536 solar modules on 15 368 square feet space. In metres, that'll be roughly 1428 square metres. Approximately 91% of Horse Palace's total space is what we propose to be used for OCAD's own Solar PV Project. Our estimated total cost for OCAD's solar project is $1 000 000 give or take.

According to a CBC Toronto Feature on Solar Revolution by Paul Shervill, it may take about 20 years to recoup investments on solar energy. This is evident in a Horse Palace case study where "The project cost a total of $1.1 million. Annual electricity revenues are expected to be $50,000. The simple payback would be 22 years if the 42 cents per kW hour were paid for 22 years. (source: Ontario's Standard Offer Program)" This is where incentives like the Better Building Partnership of Toronto comes in to help encourage people to use clean energy.

Fundraising & Incentives
OCAD Sustainability Task Force
As of 2008/2009, the task force budget includes $518,000 "allocated to conduct sustainability energy audit and implementation of audit." (source: OCAD Website)

Federation of Canadian Municipalities; Green Municipal Fund
Provides grants related to projects that include sustainable community plans, which includes an energy sector of green buildings (retrofits and new construction. The assessment criteria is specific to each call for application. They can provide loans and loans with grants for up to 80% of total costs with loans of up to $20 million and grants up to $2.5 million. (source: CSCD-GMF Funding)

Toronto Atmospheric Fund
Public institutions such as universities like OCAD are eligible for TAF grants. They have a specific strategic program area called SolarCity that encourages building local solar generation capacity. Their three granting categories are as follows:
* Concept Development (up to $10,000 to fully assess a program concept)
* General (up to $100,000), or
* Incubation (up to $100,000 annually for up to three years to sustain a significant emissions reduction program) (source: TAF Website)

Better Building Partnership of Toronto
BBP is an incentive program that attempts to reduce the city's electricity demand by 70 MW through a conservation. "The incentive is up to $400 per kW of peak demand reduction, or up to $0.05 per kWh of annual energy savings depending on the size of the project. Incentive payments are limited to 40% of total Eligible Costs." (source: BBP-ECI-Program-Guidelines.Feb08.pdf)

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