The Town of Devon has installed a 100 kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on the Devon Community Centre, a significant milestone in the town’s plan to transition into one of the first net-zero communities in Canada. Through a unique solar panel leasing program from ENMAX, The Devon Community Centre’s electricity needs are now being completely met courtesy of the sun.
“At the heart of every community is a gathering place where people connect, plan and celebrate,” said Devon Mayor, Stephen Lindop. “So transforming Devon’s Community Centre into the first net-zero building in our town with this 100 kilowatts DC system is both symbolic and a sign of things to come.”
Engineered and installed by Great Canadian Solar, the community centre installation features 393 panels that can meet 100 per cent of the building’s net annual electricity requirements. The system can offset about 73 metric tonnes of GHG emissions – the equivalent of taking 14 cars off the road annually.
The solar array itself will only degrade by 0.5% per year so the longevity of these systems is excellent. A system install today could be producing well for 50 years and likely longer.
The initial investment of $117,000 is funded through the New Infrastructure Reserve. The remaining cost will be paid over a 15 year lease, at the end of which the Town of Devon will own the solar system. Since solar systems last a long, long time, the Town views this as an economically sound investment.
Some residents have also asked about re-shingling the roof. The community centre was re-shingled in 2014, using shingles that last 50 years, on average. The solar panels also partially protect the roof and extend the life of the shingles.
The professionals at Great Canadian Solar have designed the solar panel layout for maximum energy production and to ensure that we achieve our electric net-zero goal. Factors such as which direction the arrays are facing, if there is shading and snow cover during the winter are all considered in the design.
The solar panels capture the sun's rays and generate direct current. An inverter inside the building converts the direct current to alternating current or the “usable” electricity needed to run the community centre. Inside the community centre, a bi-directional meter measures the electricity flow. On a sunny, summer day, with long daylight hours, the community centre will produce more electricity than it uses. Excess electricity will flow into the grid, translating into dollar value credits for the facility.
The combined excess of summer production and winter energy shortfall should balance out and offset each other to make this building electrically net-zero. An average solar system uncleared of snow will only produce 4-6% less energy annually than if cleared of snow. As this represents a very small amount of financial payback we will not be clearing the array of snow, to make this system free of maintenance costs.
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Town of Devon Municipal Office
1 Columbia Avenue West
Devon, AB T9G 1A1
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