Investment in rooftop solar systems might be an attractive proposition to meet our energy demands in the future
Have you ever noticed solar panels mounted on buildings of neighbours’ houses and wondered how they work? Or have you considered installing them at your own home?
Rooftop solar systems are composed of a few parts. The main component is the solar panel or a series of solar panels. The panels convert the rays from the sun into electricity, which can be stored in batteries or be used directly in the house for things like heating water in the boiler. Interestingly, in the summer, the same rooftop solar panels can also reflect some of the rays of the sun, cooling down the house an average of 2o C.
There has been an increase in uptake in many countries, and that increase in demand has driven the cost of these systems down and made them more affordable. This growing solar energy industry is also generating new employment opportunities in Canada, with the potential to generate employment for 65,000 people annually in the manufacturing, operation, and maintenance of solar panels.
In Canada, solar energy currently represents one per cent of the country’s total energy production. However, it is still significant as it removes approx. 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year from the atmosphere (the equivalent of removing 250,000 cars and trucks off the road each year).
Canada’s latitude and climatic conditions can pose some challenges to solar power generation in northern regions where there is less solar potential. The farther north you go, the sharper the angle the sun’s rays hit the panels, so the system can’t utilize the sun’s full potential. Canada also does not have a solar energy policy at the federal level which means that prices vary significantly among provinces and territories. Challenges aside, solar panels can represent a sustainable renewable source of energy in the years to come, especially for us in the Niagara region. They show promising potential as an effective climate change mitigation and adaptation plan when utilized for homes and industry.
The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur, Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg and Sam Gauthier) to learn more about the project and how you can get involved. You can also visit our website at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org