Harnessing the sun
Newly added solar carport is unique step towards sustainable energy
SAIT has added some premium parking to campus.
A new solar carport has been installed on the south side of the Green Building Technology (GBT) Lab. Covering six stalls, the new carport combines solar panels on its roof with solar tracking technology — boosting the amount of energy it can gather.
One of a kind
What makes this carport unique is the fact that the panels on the roof are designed to tilt — from five to 50 degrees — to improve solar energy collection.
By tilting to follow the sun, the solar panels are able to generate almost 20% more energy than a static panel of the same size.
"Solar carports and tracking solar panels already exist, but SAIT put the two technologies together," says Tom Jackman, Principal Investigator, Green Building Technologies.
Jackman adds that the tilting panels have an added benefit during Calgary's winter weather.
"After a snowfall, we can tilt the panels to a steep incline and slide the snow off quite easily," he says. "The sun tracking is then set back to automatic and the panels continue following the sun."
During his search for the right carport product, Jackman found most offerings on the market didn't satisfy SAIT's needs.
"We knew we wanted to have the tilting solar panels for the extra energy production and the ability to clear snow," he says. "I didn't find that while shopping around."
So, Jackman got together with Sol Aasland, Project Coordinator — Net Zero Energy, and Brandon Pool, Research Assistant, and they designed their own.
"This shows that we have the knowledge, ability and technology necessary to reduce our environmental footprint," he says. "It's a step in the right direction — a first step in potentially more solar installations at SAIT."
With 60 solar panels, the carport can produce 17,000 watts of electricity under full sun. In one year, it can generate enough electricity to power three homes.
All energy produced by GBT's solar energy systems is used to power the GBT labs along with the carport's panel tilting function, and to charge electric-powered cars parked there. When the GBT lab produces more energy than it needs, the excess is fed into the grid and helps power the Thomas Riley Building.