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On a clear day the amount of solar energy available is typically 1000 W/m2 (that's about 13 100 watt incandescent light bulbs per square metre). Of course, the amount of solar energy available also depends upon the location on a monthly or annual basis, the amount of cloud cover and the height of the sun.
The most widely used applications for solar energy are for water and space heating. Ventilation solar air heating is also growing in popularity. The uptake of electricity-producing solar technologies are becoming more popular as the costs become more competitive with conventional electrical generating technologies.
The Advantages of Solar Energy
Solar energy has the following advantages over conventional energy:
Solar Energy in Yukon
Although it is seasonal, Yukon receives close to the same amount of sunshine annually as many regions of Canada. The following table shows that Whitehorse receives about 10% less sunshine than Victoria, BC and 35% less sunshine than Estevan, Saskatchewan, which is the sunniest place in Canada.
Due to the latitude of Whitehorse, at approximately 61° N, there is a marked difference in solar radiation depending on the season. For example, "mean daily direct solar radiation on a sloped surface" reaches a maximum of 11.75 mega joules per square metre in June, while the maximum for December is 3.33 mega joules per square metre.
As would be expected, varying the tilt and direction of the instruments throughout the year allows the maximum amount of energy to be received. If this is not possible, a rule used by a Yukon photovoltaics vendor is to install fixed arrays facing south, at a tilt equal to the array's latitude, plus 20 degrees. This makes allowance for winter conditions, when there is the least sunshine, at the lowest angle relative to the horizon.
There are a number of people using small scale solar energy in the Yukon. A few businesses and homes have made use of solar thermal energy for hot water heating, and several solar energy systems make use of photovoltaic arrays to generate electricity.
Today, photovoltaics are most competitive in remote sites, far from the electric grid. In these off-grid applications, photovoltaics are typically used to charge batteries that temporarily store the energy captured by the modules and provide the user with electricity on demand.
Most of the Yukon’s photovoltaic installations are in the southern Yukon, although there are some in the Dawson City area. It has been estimated that at least 50 residential systems have been installed in the Yukon. Telecommunication businesses, highway maintenance camps, park interpretive centres and one demonstration system at Yukon College in Whitehorse also make use of photovoltaics.
Yukoners using photovoltaic systems to power their homes say that they receive reliable energy eight months of the year and that their systems require very little maintenance, largely because there are no moving parts.
Hours of Sunlight (Source: Environment Canada 1997)
Hours of Sunlight
|Prince Rupert, British Columbia||1211.8|
|Vancouver, British Columbia||1919.3|
|Victoria, British Columbia||2081.9|
|Eureka, Northwest Territories||2090.7|
The report, Solar Domestic Hot Water System Sizing for Whitehorse, YT, and Dawson, YT 190 KB documents the solar resource in Whitehorse and Dawson, and explores possible system designs (type of collector, size of collector, size of tank, and slope of collector) for the two locations.
Interactive maps of the photovoltaic (PV) potential and solar resource of Canada have been developed by the Canadian Forest Service (Great Lakes Forestry Centre) in collaboration with the CANMET Energy Technology Centre (CETC-Varennes) Photovoltaic systems group. The maps give estimates of the electricity that can be generated by grid-connected photovoltaic arrays without batteries (in kWh/kW) and of the mean daily global insolation (in MJ/m2 and in kWh/m2) for any location in Canada on a 300 arc seconds ~10 km grid. They are presented for each month and for the entire year, for six different PV array orientations: a sun-tracking orientation and five fixed South-facing orientations with latitude, vertical (90°), horizontal (0°) and latitude ± 15° tilts (see figure). Data can be obtained at any grid location by "querying" the maps.