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Ainsworth installs Canada’s largest post-secondary solar system at St. Lawrence College


January 24, 2011
By Alyssa Dalton

A solar rooftop energy system designed and built by Ainsworth Inc. is being installed at two St. Lawrence College campuses in Kingston and Brockville, which combined, will comprise the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop installation at any post-secondary institution in Canada.

The installation totals 350 kW, while a 250-kW rooftop system at the Kingston campus will involve more than 1,200 solar modules installed on three separate rooftops. The system is expected to generate more than $200,000 a year in revenue for the college.

A second 100-kW rooftop system at the college’s Brockville campus, involving 442 solar modules, will be installed on the rooftop of the main building – ringing in an estimated revenue of $80,000 a year.

The total revenue generated of $280,000 a year is through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program. Through this program, the Government of Ontario signs a power purchase agreement with an organization and then pays a designated rate for energy generated by the solar system over the next 20 years.

“Ainsworth is thrilled to be partnering with St. Lawrence College on this exciting project, which we think is the way of the future,” said Albert Renaud, president and CEO of Ainsworth. “The OPA, through the FIT Program, has opened the door to making renewable technologies like solar sustainable in Ontario. As an OMERS business, sustainability plays an important role in everything we do.”

In addition to generating revenue, benefits for the college include demonstrating a commitment to Ontario’s plan to promote green energy; and providing students with a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn about solar energy, says Ainsworth.

As the first college to offer a diploma in Energy Systems Engineering and Wind Turbine Technician, students enrolled in the program will gather real-time solar data and learn how tilt angles, flat vs. sloped rooftops, different types of inverters and different geographic locations impact the generation of solar power. Such information will help students learn how to optimize the design of solar systems, and give the solar industry valuable information about how different designs affect the performance of solar panels across Eastern Ontario.