Students training for their future jobs at Queen’s University (Queen’s) in Kingston and studying in the field at the school’s Biological Station, 50 km north of the city, are one step closer to fueling their educations with solar power. The institution has selected Johnson Controls (Johnson) as the project’s vendor and will soon sign a contract with the company to install more than 10 MW of solar generating capacity at its facilities.
Queen’s plans to install a 950 kW PV system on the roofs of its Main and West campuses and a 10 MW ground-mounted installation at the Biological Station. The Campus and Planning Development Committee has approved Johnson, but before it agrees to an official plan with the company, the school must first complete some further preparations and paperwork. Johnson is an American technology and industry leader that does business in more than 150 countries across the globe. Once the university and the company sign a contract, Queen’s will conduct feasibility studies on the roofs’ structural limitations and investigate options related to grid connection.
According to the university’s Associate Vice Principal, Ann Browne, the institution plans to take part in Ontario’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program, which pays high prices to producers of renewable energy who feed their projects into the power grid. The program creates green energy and green jobs in addition to educational opportunities like solar training programs.
School Project Will Create Renewable Energy and Green Jobs
“Based on the strong proposals that we received,” says Vice Principal Caroline Davis, “we are hopeful that solar investment is a viable option given the environmental and financial considerations.” The school will likely follow a leasing model, which Vice Principal Brown says would alleviate performance risks and the need for the university to invest its own capital.
Once Queen’s completes the feasibility studies, it can begin to arrange financing and Johnson can set about designing, engineering, and procuring materials for the solar installations, followed by their construction, which could take six to nine months. If the Ontario Power Authority approves the projects to take part in the FIT, the program’s domestic content requirements will ensure that the installations create jobs for graduates of the region’s solar training schools. With the help of Ontario’s government and its blossoming renewable energy industry, Queen’s University will do its part to take the province into a greener, healthier future.