Photo: CTV News
Tesla Powerpacks became part of a project that powers Canada's first carbon-neutral school. Energy storage systems with solar panels make it possible to achieve energy independence.
John Paul II Catholic Secondary School in London, Ontario became the first school in Canada to become energy independent and carbon neutral, according to CTV News via Drive Tesla Canada. On November 2, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on the occasion of the official opening of the green project, which became possible thanks to a collaboration of industry, government, and students themselves.
“We're aware of what's going on in the world and it's amazing to really put our feet down and say we want better, we want better for our future generations,” said Grade 13 student Sarah Bedor, who was among the students who got hands-on experience working on the project. “We’re willing to commit to that, and so this project has shown.”
The system consists of 2,700 covered solar panels that generate 825 kilowatts of electricity. All the energy received from the sun is stored in Tesla Powerpack energy storage systems during the day and feeds the school when the sun is out. Solar panels are placed as a cover over the car park.
Natural gas is no longer required to heat the school as the new system uses heat pumps to supply outdoor air to heat or cool the school. The retrofit cuts greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero and removes an estimated 277 tonnes of carbon per year, according to the London District Catholic School Board. This not only makes the project completely self-sufficient but also lowers baseline energy costs by almost 70 percent, said Director of Education Vince Romeo.
The school's microgrid supplies energy to London Hydro and the provincial grid, according to Jim Fonger, VP of renewable energy firm Ameresco, the main industry partner involved in the project. “It kind of lives in, we’ll call it a symbiotic nature with the local grid, in that sometimes it’s taking from it and sometimes it’s supporting it,” said Fonger. "But at all times the school actually gets what it needs."
The $9.7 million project was jointly funded by Ameresco and senior government agencies and is expected to pay itself off in about 25 years. School Principal Peter Cassidy added: "I understand that even at the initial stage, the system is working more efficiently than expected."
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