Here's another great example of multi-use agricultural buildings. This storage barn was built with large sliding doors all along the North side, allowing incredible access for implement storage. On the roof is a 100kW FIT solar energy system. The array is actually 125kW of Heliene PV modules. An array of 20 SMA string inverters ensures a high degree of reliability and serviceability: replacement inverters, should one every be required, are readily available within a couple days.
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These two barns are in great shape and have had a productive life servicing an active horse operation. Adding solar was a natural choice for the owner. Fitting all the desired solar onto the barn roofs was not easy, so the owner, a qualified mechanical engineer, designed his own custom racking system with our help. The resulting array actually overhangs the roof peak on both barns. This is normally not a recommended method to mount a solar array, but in this case the mounting method was supported with appropriate engineering.
This is another example of multiple smaller string inverters chosen to maximize serviceability and minimize down time in the event of a failure: a vote for long term reliability.
Wiring from the PV combiners was buried under the horse riding ring as well as through the barnyard.
The system is equipped with full weather monitoring for tracking performance against expectation.
Here's another great example of multi-use agricultural buildings. These two barns host a mix of storage, future livestock, and a 250kW FIT solar energy system. The array is actually over 300kW of Conergy PV modules. As the system was split between the two buildings, we opted for an array of 25 10kW inverters feeding a 600VAC 3 phase farm service. The multiple smaller inverters (as opposed to one 250kW unit, or 2 125kW units) give the owner a much higher degree of reliability and serviceability: there's a spare on site and, should a failure happen, only 1 of 25 inverters goes down rather than the whole project going off line.
Yorkshire Valley Farms is a producer of certified organic chicken. The farmers, Tom Ahrens, Tony Ambler, and partners, have ambitious and exciting plans for broad scale availability of organically grown chickens. (Their chickens can now be purchased at Loblaws stores across the province.) To support these plans they are building a number of new barns and elected to include a FIT PV system on the first new barn.
The barn was built in the fall of 2010 with the first batch of chicks arriving in November. The roof-top portion of the solar project had to be finished well before the chicks' arrival so as to not disturb the chicks with construction noise.
This project includes 540 Conergy P235 modules and 270 Enphase D380 micro-inverters. Enphase was selected as the project inverter in part owing to their availability as Ontario Content within the timeframe of the project. The array was broken into 3 sections, each feeding its own Enphase Line Communications Filter and Envoy Communication Gateway. The Envoy allows module-by-module performance and error monitoring for maximizing long term system performance.
The building design was optimized for solar in 2 ways: roof pitch was increased for improved PV performance, and roof structure was designed to accommodate vertical PV mounting rails and a landscape module orientation.
The site had great access all along the southern side, and was only a single storey high. This allows us to use a telehandler (sometimes called a zoom-boom) to retrieve full skids of modules from the storage trailer, move them to the installation location, and place the entire skid right at working height at any point from the eave to the top of the roof.
This project encountered many bureaucratic hurdles along the way. This owes largely to the degree to which it was pushing the envelope in the province: Among the first FIT projects to reach commercial operation; The first Enphase FIT project to reach commercial operation; The first FIT project for this Hydro One service region
In September 2009 Generation Solar was contracted to participate in, what was then, the largest roof-top solar electric system in Canada. The 144kWDC project was one of first projects to go online in the Ontario FIT program. Generation Solar installed about 80kW of the roof array, sharing the PV installation work with another contractor.
The PV modules were mounted flat to make best use of limited roof area; the roof deck itself would not accommodate a ballasted system so the racks were designed to be anchored to the building posts.
When constructing its new building in downtown Peterborough, the YWCA of Peterborough, Victoria, and Haliburton decided to incorporate a number of green features, including a 10kW roof mounted solar electric system.
The Y and its architect turned to Generation Solar for advice on how to best incorporate the solar array into the new structure. We recommended the use of standing seam metal roof so as to permit a penetration-free roof-top installation and the idea was endorsed by the Y's building committee.
The finished installation made use of standing seam roof anchors by S-5! installed on each and every roof seam. The roofing installation itself was reinforced to accommodate the solar array based on design work by Generation Solar. Wiring was slipped up under the roof cap for a completely penetration-free installation, ensuring that, for the life of the roof, there will be no leaks associated with the solar installation.
The installation was complicated by the proximity to the sidewalk -- we knew we would need to work on the sidewalk, so we secured a permit to close the sidewalk. The articulated boom we used for roof access caused some depressions in the recently landscaped boulevard, so we regraded and resodded once we were finished.
Take one Canadian Art landmark, add a steep steel roof, 60 feet in the air on a sloped site, and a 15kW - 3 Phase solar electric array and what do you get? The McMichael Canadian Art Collection project.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection houses Canada's largest collection of Canadian Art most notably the best collection of Group of Seven work in the world. Directly under the PV array is gallery space - a roof leak could ruin a priceless work. For this job, a Standing Seam Metal Roof was used. It allowed us to fasten our racking without making a single roof penetration. We attached directly to the standing seam with special clamps made by a company called S-5!. The S-5!s with a standing seam metal roof are a premium combination but if potential roof leaks will keep you up at night you might want to consider them.
The second challenge with this job was the height and steepness of the roof combined with the sloped site. An aerial lift or crane would not work on this slope. To deal with this we used custom scaffold along the entire length of the eave below where we were working. This gave us a staging area for equipment and tools as well as an added measure of safety for those down below if a part or tool was to slide away on us. This type of work environment requires extra planning to ensure few trips up and down the scaffolding as this can add tremendously to installation time and installer fatigue.
Our last big challenge on this job was dealing with the irregularly shaped roof surface. The wall construction is log with stone piers in between. Over time, the logs settled, but the stones didn't. This left a terrible hump in the roof above the stone pier. We felt that the lines of the solar array would further accentuate this hump so we used a racking system that allowed us to 'mellow' the hump. It was a long and systematic process but it worked out well in the end.
The Kelly Residence is a classic case of perseverance and performance. It's a 9.66kW high efficiency squeeze that started in the Spring of 2009.
Brian and Lynne Kelly first contacted us shortly after the initial microFIT announcement in March 2009. They liked what they were hearing about the Green Energy Act and Feed in Tariffs for solar electricity production. The Kelly's wanted to take part with a 10kW system on the roof of an addition to the family's home. We kept in touch through the turbulent beginnings of the program and regularly sent each other updates when we heard new information.
I had the roof measurements and knew it was going to be a tight fit for 10kW, but as new modules with different dimensions and efficiencies became available I sized them up for suitability.
When the program officially became available in October 2009, Brian was one of the first to get his contract application in and Generation Solar had become authorized to install the uber efficient and highly coveted Sunpower line of modules. The Sunpower 230W panel was a perfect fit. With its 18.5% module efficiency we were able to hit 9.66kW - a power density of over 180Watts/square metre!
Brian and Lynne Kelly's contract came through in the spring of 2010. In June, the family was hosting a family re-union weekend with 300 guests. The goal was to get this system connected in time for the re-union.
The Kelly home is beautiful. It's a delightfully crafted old one-room schoolhouse converted to a home in rural Peterborough with very well manicured gardens. Brian warned me, with a fearful husband's smile, that Lynn's gardens were not to be disturbed!
We set to work in May. We used a 51' articulated aerial boom to access the 2nd storey 12:12 pitch steel roof and light feet to minimize our impact on the gardens. We had the complete system up in just over a week. After passing electrical inspection, the connection authorization was issued to the utility. With 2 days to spare before the family re-union weekend the system was connected and commissioned - and not a single guest complained about the gardens!
Rock Lake is a seasonal use facility in Algonquin Provincial Park. As such it has a variety of hot water demands, depending on the season. Full campgrounds demand a lot of hot water in the summer months but in winter the building is completely drained of water and shut down. Then there is spring and fall when the campground may not be full during the week and demand is less than average. This varied hot water demand presents some interesting challenges.
Contrary to common belief, the biggest challenge with any commercial solar hot water system is to avoid overheating, not under heating. Over heating causes excessive wear on parts and accelerates the degradation of the heat transfer fluid.
The second biggest challenge is to not over burden maintenance staff with additional annual service requirements from the system. In every commercial facility, the maintenance staff have plenty to do without the solar thermal system imposing onerous tasks on their monthly or annual schedule. If the tasks are onerous there is a good chance they might not get done.
At Rock Lake, we designed a system for all seasons:
A custom designed, closed loop solar water heating system with a heat dump circuit.
Here's how it works:
In the spring and fall when the campground is running at less than full occupancy we also have less sunlight hours. This works well most of the time, but there is still a significant chance of over heating because of low hot water demand and unseasonably sunny weather. During this time of year, the system controller prioritizes heating the water. When the tanks are full, excess heat goes to a dump load.
In the winter, when there is no demand for hot water and the building is shut down and drained of all water, a sensor sends a signal to the controller to tell it to send all the solar heat to the dump load. Our dump load is a bank of radiators. The radiators are located in the basement of the building where they can heat the building. When the water is back on in the spring the system automatically reverts back to normal operation (prioritizing hot water first and heat second).
During the summer the system really shines. In fact, the system was sized specifically for summer campground peak load. In this way, the need to dump heat to the basement, in summer, is minimized. Which is good because nobody likes a hot building in summer.
The key to this system is not just the dump load, but the custom controls to make it all work efficiently in a way that is easy for the park staff to deal with. The last thing any maintenance staff person needs is to spend a lot of time taking care of yet another system. With this system, there is no additional attention required during fall shut down or spring start up. The controls react to the job - not the other way around.
- It has been a great pleasure working with you, the project has gone very smoothly. We are very pleased and we look forward to continuing our relationship with you over the next 20 years as we generate power.
- I was a great relief to find Generation Solar, after having numerous unpleasant dealings with my initial installer. Their responsiveness and professionalism were top notch. They represented me in dealings with my equipment manufacturer over a warranty issue and produced results that I don't feel I could have on my own. Most importantly, they did what they said they would and kept me informed every step of the way. I would not hesitate recommending Generation Solar and look forward to a continued relationship with them.
- I just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the system you and your team installed. Things have been running great. Checking the inverter for the daily output has been part of my routine, and I enjoy counting the kW. Thanks so much for all the work, professionalism and guidance on this project. You and your team are great.
- Wanted you to know that Jackson and Geordie were Amazing and very helpful, hard working in the heat. They did an Awesome job and were very tidy, a hot weather bonus is probably in order though they did say they love working for you.