Solar energy: Enormous Ontario potential

Solar energy: Enormous Ontario potential

Apr 20, 2010 - United Press International

Canadian scientists say solar power production in southeastern Ontario can potentially produce nearly the same amount of power of all U.S. nuclear reactors.

The findings from the two Queen's University studies led by Professor Joshua Pearce are the first to explore the region's solar energy potential.

One study, accepted for publication in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, discovered that if choice roof tops in southeastern Ontario were covered with solar panels, they could produce five gigawatts, or about 5 percent, of all of Ontario's energy.

"To put this in perspective, all the coal plants in all of Ontario produce just over six gigawatts. The sun doesn't always shine, so if you couple solar power with other renewable energy sources, such as wind, hydro and biomass, southeastern Ontario could easily cover its own energy needs," Pearce said.

The second study, published in the journal Solar Energy, looked at land in southeastern Ontario that could be used for solar farms. The study found land with little economic value -- barren, rocky, non-farmable areas -- has the potential to produce 90 gigawatts.

"Nuclear power for all of the United States is about 100 gigawatts. We can produce 90 on barren land with just solar in this tiny region, so we are not talking about small potatoes," Pearce said.

Pearce and students Ha Nguyen and Lindsay Wiginton conducted the studies to provide solid numbers on solar energy potential, as well as possible solar farm locations.