Archives for the month of: April, 2013


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 not uphold. After failing to meet target reductions of GHG’s, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol at the end of 2011. Canada needs to learn from its mistakes and work on developing a national energy strategy that will benefit Canadians.

What would a national energy strategy look like, and how would we get there? We could start by increasing engagement and advocation for development of an energy strategy for Canada. Promotion of open discussion to define what is important to Canadians in a energy strategy needs to occur. Why do we need a national energy strategy?  How much do we focus on making renewables a central part of our energy policy? Should we be putting a price on carbon, and would a carbon tax hurt Canada? How can we focus on the longevity and long term views of an energy strategy for Canada? There are many questions to be answered with no readily apparent solutions.

Where do solar energy and other alternative energy sources fit within Canada’s national energy strategy? Following the success of the feed in tariff (FIT) and micro-FIT programs, Canada has developed FIT 2.0  which will put another 160MW of solar energy online. The arrival of FIT 2.0 was not a surprise, but we will likely be seeing less government subsidy of solar projects. We cannot be reliant on a technology that requires subsidy to be sustainable. Fortunately, we have already seen instances where solar energy can be produced at grid parity. With the dropping prices of solar energy and the ever escalating price of non-renewable energies, it is essential for solar to be a large part of Canada’s energy strategy. With the help of the FIT programs, Canada aims to be recognized as a leader in the installation and manufacturing of solar modules.

Canada needs to sculpt an energy strategy that can drive our economy, promoting growth in an underdeveloped sector. An energy strategy that will advance job growth within Canada, and ultimately will lead to a more sustainable country.


-Matthew Schuster


Queens University

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 easily deployed, even in residential areas), but one of the biggest is at Oxford Gardens retirement home in Woodstock, Ontario. This solar thermal project is saving on air conditioning costs by up to 40%, or approximately $20,000 per year; for heat savings, up to 60% or approximately $40,000 per year, according to Suni Ball from Proterra Solar[1].



    A geothermal heat pump, ground source heat pump (GSHP), or ground heat pump is a central heating and/or cooling system that pumps heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). Heat pumps provide winter heating by extracting heat from a source and transferring it into a building. In the summer, the process can be reversed so the heat pump extracts heat from the building and transfers it to the ground. Transferring heat to a cooler space takes less energy, so the cooling efficiency of the heat pump gains benefits from the lower ground temperature (fig-2).



The combination of these two systems has many benefits [2]:

-Both systems don’t use fossil fuels at the point of use

-Geothermal is the backup for the solar thermal while the Geo-thermal can also provide cooling.

-Large flexibility in the heating appliances that can be used with both systems.

-Using the geothermal loop field as a storage tank to absorb the excess solar energy in the summer.  This advantage allows you to oversize the solar thermal system and increase the solar thermal contribution to the winter heating.

A study has been done [3] for the viability of a combined system in Milton, Ontario. This study shows that a combined system is feasible for space conditioning. For the house in this study, the seasonal solar thermal energy storage in the ground was sufficient to offset the large amount of Geo-thermal pump system length that would have been required in conventional systems. They showed that the economic benefit of such system depends on climate, as well as borehole drilling cost.

To conclude, a hybrid Solar-Geo-thermal system could be an outstanding solution to the high demand of energy in today’s world. It has a lot of benefits like sustainability, being clean (non-polluting) and having the ability to work all year round. Another important benefit is the possibility of using this system for all kinds of applications such as residential, commercial and industrial.

Farbod Ghods-Farbod Ghods

Ph.D Candidate, 1st Year

Department of Engineering Physics

McMaster University




[3]- Rad et al, COMBINED SOLAR THERMAL AND GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMP SYSTEM, Eleventh International IBPSA conference, Glasgow, Scotland, July 2009.