Tell us about the solar panel at Singh Bowl

YOU ASKED:I am sure that many people are interested in the City's sustainable-energy efforts and successes . . . . My question is about Singh Bowl soccer park's washroom facility. I notice that there are solar panels that appear to be photovoltaic panels. Could you please tell us about the system? Does it supply electricity into the power grid or does it supply only a system at the Singh Street site? How is it preferable to operating a grid-tied conventional electrical connection?

OUR ANSWER:That is definitely a photovoltaic system on the roof at Singh Bowl and it's been in operation for almost a year now.

In fact, City parks supervisor Shawn Cook said it would have been installed 10 years ago when the park was created, had solar systems not been so pricey at the time.

"We were looking at alternative energy the year before (Singh Bowl was built), for some of our small buildings like this," said Cook.

"The problem was solar was so expensive."

Then prices began to drop worldwide - as much as 80 per cent - making solar systems more attainable for consumers and smaller corporate customers.

"Solar went down quite a bit last year," said Cook. "So, we thought this would be a good location to try it out. It's a small building, we've got really good sunlight here and the system is noticeable here; people see it."

The Singh Bowl solar panels were installed for about $13,000 and while it is considered a "net-zero" system, it actually generates an income for the City.

Here's how it works: sunlight is converted to electricity via the solar panels. That electricity powers the building and - especially on sunny days - creates surplus energy, which is sold back to B.C. Hydro.

"It's sold for something like three or four times the cost, so we actually make money selling it back to B.C. Hydro.

Cook said the City is looking at solar power for other parks facilities, based on the success of the Singh Bowl project -including the Canada Games Pool at the Tournament Capital Centre.

West Highlands Park is another one. It's the new multi-use park under construction at the former Aberdeen Highlands Golf Course. Cook said a combination of solar and wind power will be used there.

"It made sense to do something like this," said Cook, of the project that started it all - the Singh Street building.

He said it's to "show that we're actually looking at alternatives instead of just, you know, standard power. And, so far, it's been a really good success, which is what we wanted."

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