A large SolarWall (r) solar air heating system was installed this week on the Waterfront Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College.
There's a huge solar energy system being installed this week on the south wall of the new NSCC building on the Halifax waterfront. It's big - more than 2000 square feet - and in plain view - yet virtually invisible.
That's because the most visible portion of the SolarWall® heating system looks very much like regular metal siding - but it's actually an engineered renewable energy system that the US Dept. of Energy has praised as being "rated in the top two percent of energy related inventions ".
Natural Resources Canada has identified this technology as "the simplest, most efficient - and least expensive - way to preheat outside air…" . While we try to minimize the cold outside air coming into our homes during the winter months, public buildings are required to pull in huge volumes of fresh air - and for 8 months of the year heating that fresh air can cost a lot of money. Reducing heating costs is an important consideration for buildings big and small - especially financially-strapped companies like the Ford Motor plant near Buffalo, N.Y., They figure they are saving $300,000 a year thanks to a 50,000 ft2 SolarWall®. Each square meter of SolarWall® has the potential of delivering the same heat as a 500w heater. A system the size of the one at NSCC is like having almost 200 of these heaters - working for free.
Recent installations include the athletes village at the Beijing Olympics, Owen's Corning in Ontario and the new transit facility in Saint John NB.
The installation at NSCC is the first commercial sized SolarWall® in HRM. A similar system has been incorporated in the design of the new academic building at Dalhouside University and is slated for installation later this year. A rooftop SolarDuct' system will be incorporated in the new Mainland Common facility in the coming months.
Overview of the SolarWall® system at NSCC:
· 2086 ft2 Regent Grey SolarWall
· Projected to deliver more than 90,000 kWh of free heat each year
· Lifespan of more than 25 years, no additional maintenance, no moving parts
· Each square meter of SolarWall® has the potential of delivering the same heat as a 500w heater. A system the size of the one at NSCC is like having almost 200 of these heaters - working for free.
· Anticipated annual emissions reduction - 25 tonnes of CO2 - equivalent to:
· Taking 4 cars off the road each year
· The energy used by 3.5 homes each year
· For each year of operation - carbon sequestered by growing 615 seedlings for 10 years.
· Emissions from 1000 propane tanks for home barbeques
· Emissions from 10,000 litres of gasoline
How does it work
SolarWall (r) panels have thousands of tiny, engineered perforations and are installed a few inches out from the building wall, creating an air channel. The intake of the ventilation unit draws air from this air channel rather than directly from outside. When the sun warms the surface of the collector, the heated air is drawn through thousands of tiny perforations and ducted to the existing air intake. The solar heated air is then distributed throughout the building via the conventional ventilation system or dedicated fans and ducting. On a sunny day the SolarWall(r) system can raise the temperature of incoming air 30-70° degrees fahrenheit above ambient. This low-cost, low-tech solar air heating system is capable of producing up to 600 watts/m2 (60 watts/ ft2) of thermal energy….. every m2 is like a 600 W baseboard heater.
Flash animation of how it works: http://www.personalpowersolutions.com/resources/SolarWall+How+it+Works+Flash.exe
What about cloudy days?
My Generation (www.my-generation.ca) is the Atlantic representative for SolarWall and knows all too well the weather we see in this region. "Some Maritimers assume you need the big blue sky of California to "go solar" - but there's always heat from the sun … even when the clouds roll in", says president Heather MacAulay. She explains that's because most are only considering direct radiation when talking solar - the kind that arrives unobstructed through those sunny blue skies. That's typically only 55% of the solar energy available - the remaining 45% arrives as indirect radiation (diffused through cloud, haze or fog) and reflected radiation (off snow, water, etc). Electricity generating PV panels are primarily only able to make use of direct radiation and have an efficiency of 12-18%. SolarWallŇ makes use of all three and Canada's solar test lab has rated it at 75-80% efficient.
SolarWall heating system at Parks Canada in Manitoba featured on Ekos TV.
A hybrid SolarWall-PV installation at Concordia University was featured on Discovery Channel's Daily Planet.
SolarWall Project Profiles:
Overviews of previous installations at Bombardier, Walmart, FedEx, Syracuse Community Housing, Jaguar, Secondary Schools, Municipal airport, Military bases, etc.