A 36-panel array of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels installed at the University of Waterloo (UW) on the roof of Federation Hall, a student-run pub, went live and is now capable of generating electricity for 30 to 50 years or more.Waterloo, Ontario, Canada – January 28, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] UW reports that this is the first student-designed solar array on a university campus in Canada. Now that the array is up-and-running, plans for workshops, seminars, and educational programs for elementary school children are underway. The solar array utilizes a grid-tied system, in which the electricity produced is fed into the building’s electrical panel to be used on-site at Federation Hall — or, if there is surplus power, will be automatically directed back to the University’s utility grid and used anywhere on campus. The Federation Hall solar array is a result of the efforts of the Solar Technology Education Project (STEP), a student-led volunteer team at the University of Waterloo whose goal was to install a PV array as a demonstration project to raise awareness about renewable energies. In addition to electricity production, the array will prevent more than 1200 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year from polluting the air by avoiding the burning of fossil fuels. “We aimed to highlight the role of renewable energies and energy efficiency as powerful solutions to climate change,” said Jeff DeLoyde, STEP director and fourth year environmental engineering student. The S.T.E.P. project is only one piece of the solar boom that is taking place in Waterloo region. Waterloo will be the site of Canada’s first solar neighbourhood. ARISE Technologies Corp. of Kitchener is working with Cook Homes to build new homes in the Eastbridge area with integrated PV systems. Also, the City of Waterloo recently installed a solar array on their City Hall building as a solar energy pilot project. Spheral Solar of Cambridge is developing a new solar cell that will use less silicon, thereby bringing the cost down to competitive levels. All of these initiatives compliment the Region of Waterloo’s Clean Air Plan, which aims (in part) to improve the region’s notoriously poor air quality by pursuing initiatives such as public transit and renewable energy projects. The S.T.E.P. project started in January 2002 and has since involved more than 75 volunteers and raised over CAD$40,000 (US$30,600) from 22 sponsors including University of Waterloo groups and businesses. “This is the first of many renewable energy projects on campus,” said DeLoyde. The S.T.E.P. team is considering new projects including a solar hot water system for the Physical Activity Centre (PAC), a “solar sculpture” that moves when the sun is out, or a PV solar array that tracks the sun.