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Ottawa Citizen - Solar panels will turn rooftops into power plants
February 1, 2011

A Toronto company with roots in Germany will oversee the installation of the first major solar installation in urban Ottawa under the province's feed-in tariff program.

The eight sets of rooftop panels will supply a maximum of 2.7 megawatts (2.7 million watts) on a hot summer day -- enough to supply nearly 1,000 homes.

Most of the panels will be on rooftops of Dymon Self-Storage buildings, while some will be on the Duke of Devonshire, a seniors' residence on Carling Avenue owned by Dymon.

The project manager is Ontario Solar Provider Inc. (OSP) of Toronto. OSP chief executive Christian Wentzel says the company has been installing big solar projects for seven years, first in Germany and now in Ontario, where the feed-in tariff pays a premium for power from wind, and a bigger premium for solar power.

Most of the Dymon storage buildings cover large areas, and those large roofs are good places for solar panels, he noted.

He said construction will begin "as soon as the weather allows."

The solar installations will be on buildings at 27 Auriga Dr., 2420 Bank St., 323 Coventry Rd., 4338 Innes Rd., 1680 Vimont Ct. and the Duke of Devonshire on Carling. They will also be on two future buildings, one on Carling at the Queensway and one in the Kanata Centrum mall.

The panels will belong to Dymon Power Corp., part of the Ottawa-based Dymon Group of Companies, a real estate development group.

Neighbours won't see much, Wentzel said. They're flat panels about half a metre above roof height.

"The panel warranties are for 25 years," Wentzel said. "There is a little bit of degradation each year," but the manufacturer guarantees they will still perform at 80 per cent of the original level after 25 years.

"This is standard among all quality, respectable panel manufacturers."

The panels will deliver about 75 per cent of their annual power in summer, he said. Ontario's peak power demand is on hot summer days, driven by the demand for air conditioning. "The advantage to solar power, unlike wind or nuclear, is that it comes on when it's most needed, during hot, sunny days."

Under its new Green Energy Act, Ontario is offering 20-year contracts for electricity from photovoltaic (PV) solar cells. The price varies with the size of the installation, but for projects this size it is generally from 53.9 to 63 cents per kilowatt hour.

"Many people say that solar power is expensive," Wentzel said. "Yes, it's expensive, but it's emission-free," and generating extra power from fossil fuel during peak demand is also expensive."

Dymon isn't telling what this project costs, but Wentzel says that a typical 250-kilowatt solar project covers about 40,000 square feet and costs about $1.2 million. The Dymon rooftop installations range from 100 to 500 kilowatts each.

Dymon plans to build more in Ottawa -- up to 10 megawatts of capacity -- but hasn't finalized the contracts yet, said Steve Creighton, the senior vice-president.

"It's an exciting thing for us," he said. The company's self-storage buildings "all have very large, flat roofs, so they're ideally suited for solar installation." He expects installation to begin in late March.

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