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MEDIA RELEASE: Solar Power Project at Cambrian College

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

For immediate release

July 7, 2014


Cambrian College and Renewable Resource Recovery Corp. pioneer new solar power technology


SUDBURY – Cambrian College has concluded a pilot project commissioned by Sudbury-based Renewable Resource Recovery Corp. and the results are promising. The patent-pending project, which involves harnessing waste energy from solar panels, increases efficiency by 15-20 per cent, reducing hydro bills and generating new income streams. 

Steve Gravel, Cambrian’s applied research developer, believes this technology could be a game-changer.

“Basically you’re getting two products for the price of one,” he says. “Co-generation of electricity and heat is a popular trend in the sustainable green energy market. The capacity to generate electricity while heating air and water provides two useable products to end-users. Often, cost is the major barrier to installing solar panels, but co-generation makes solar installations more cost-effective and attractive.”

Gravel adds that the project offered valuable field experience for students from the Energy Systems Technology program, who worked on it throughout the school year.

“This project has provided Renewable Resource Recovery Corp. with a well-designed heat recovery system, as well as solid empirical validation of the system’s efficiency,” he says. 

The @Source-Energy wall is a precast, pre-stressed concrete wall panel with photovoltaic (PV) panels cast into its face and a thermal heat recovery system embedded in the concrete behind the PV panels. It generates electricity, which can be used at the source or sold to the electrical grid, providing a revenue stream to its owners. Currently targeted towards businesses, John Hood, VP of Research and Development, anticipates residential users – including those with cottages and summer homes – could also benefit.

“Photovoltaic cells normally have a solar conversion efficiency of between 15 and 27 per cent; the balance of the energy is converted to waste heat,” Hood notes. “This technology captures that waste energy and returns it to heat the building through a heat pump. In hot weather, the heat can be stored in a ground thermal energy storage system, which can be used to heat the building during cold weather.”

Cambrian College received approximately $25,000 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for this project. For further details on Renewable Resource Recovery Corp. or the @Source-Energy system, please visit The media is invited to view the installation and to conduct interviews on Wednesday, July 9 at 1 p.m. in the Glencore Sustainable Energy Centre. Representatives from Cambrian College and Renewable Resource Recovery Corp. will be present.

Cambrian College is among the top 50 research colleges in Canada and Cambrian Innovates, the applied research arm of the College, is part of a national focus on hands-on research. It links faculty and students to industry leaders, in order to develop and design innovative solutions to business challenges. The number of Canadian companies collaborating with public colleges and institutes jumped by 19 per cent last year. Investments by colleges, institutes and polytechnics surged to more than $49 million and the federal government contributed approximately $71 million in 2013 for applied research. More than 2,300 faculty members and 29,000 students from across Canada are working on applied research projects. These partnerships help bridge skills gaps so students gain practical experience that often lead to well-paying careers.

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About the Sudbury Working Group

The Sudbury working-group of The Media Co-op was formed to create independent media in the North, to speak to our issues and outlooks on our communities as well as the world around us. Independent media provides an avenue for people who are wishing to gain critical perspective on the issues that matter most to us, and to give a voice to those people and stories that you won't find in the mainstream media.

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