Last call: 4 days until prostate cancer run

This is — I promise — my last call for donations for the 8k run I’m doing this Saturday to raise money for research into prostate cancer. It’s a good cause to get behind, and Toronto cancer researchers are among the best in the world.

If you would like to sponsor my run, please click here and you’ll be directed to my Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation Web page where you can donate online. I’m hoping to raise $1,000 and am two-thirds of the way there. Another $300 should put me over…

Thanks to those who have donated so far. Your generosity is much appreciated.

UPDATE: Just $95 away from hitting my target. That’s just seven $15 donations. Three days to go… Feeling good.

Residential solar thermal systems get huge incentive boost

The Canadian government boosted its incentives for home energy retrofits yesterday by 25 per cent for most items, which the Ontario government said it would match. It’s all part of an effort to stimulate “green” home renovations as part of a larger effort to kickstart economic activity.

I said “most” items because solar thermal hot water systems got an even greater boost. The current rebate is $500 from the federal government, matched by a further $500 from Ontario. The feds increased its rebate dramatically to $1,250. So if Ontario matches, as it says it will, that will mean anyone who purchases and installs a residential solar hot water system will get $2,500 back. Not bad, considering you can get a system for as low as $6,000.

Expect more “thermal” and energy efficiency announcements from Ontario in the coming weeks. Here’s my article in the Star if you want some more details.

Everbrite Solar to build 150MW thin-film manufacturing plant in Ontario

The first thin-film manufacturing plant to be built in Canada will be located in Kingston, Ontario, which is located about three hours east of Toronto. Everbrite Solar, a Toronto-based company, will license turnkey manufacturing technology from a supplier overseas — details to come later — and plans to have the $500-million facility up and churning out 150 megawatts of solar modules annually by the end of next year. The plan also includes a $25-million pilot production line that will be used by researchers at neighbouring Queen’s University to test out thin-film performance and reliability advances coming out of their solar lab. The announcement comes a few weeks after the Ontario government tabled its Green Energy Act, which gives priority access to the grid for renewables. The act is expected to pass in June.

Also announced recently was a new advanced feed-in tariff program that will see the province’s power authority pay between 44.3 cents and 80.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of solar power generated by local projects. The highest tariffs goes to owners of residential rooftop solar systems, while the lowest goes to developers of multimegawatt ground-mounted systems. The prices aren’t set in stone, however. The Ontario Power Authority will spend the next few weeks holding stakeholder consultation to fine-tune the pricing.

Everbrite Solar’s announcement is just the latest sign that momentum is building in the Ontario market.

REGEN and Fat Spaniel connect on energy management

There’s a buzz around Toronto-based REGEN Energy these days, the company that uses “swarm logic” to manage the energy use of large appliances in buildings that cycle on and off. REGEN’s EnviroGrid devices, when several are attached to appliances scattered throughout a building, communicate with each other wirelessly and figure out amongst themselves — without any central control — which ones should turn on and which should turn off to minimize a large electricity consumer’s overall peak load. There’s little, if any, human intervention. That said, humans can intervene by taking control of the devices in a demand-response scenario to turn down load. For this reason, REGEN’s technology is both a load management and a demand response tool.

Anyway, at the GreenNet ’09 conference REGEN announced this evening it has partnered up with Fat Spaniel, which has a renewable-energy monitoring application, called the Insight Platform, that is gaining industry momentum. Continue reading REGEN and Fat Spaniel connect on energy management

Water battery: Riverbank Power brings new twist to pumped storage

I have a feature in today’s Toronto Star about a local company called Riverbank Power, founded by a former wind developer who’s determined to open up opportunities for large-scale energy storage across North America. Riverbank does pumped hydro storage, but not like conventional projects that require the right geography and topology (i.e. a large natural reservoir hundreds of metres over lake level).

Riverbank depends more on geology. It looks for brownfield sites that are located next to a large body of water and transmission lines (with adequate capacity). It then digs a few deep holes to figure out the rock conditions. If the rock is hard and if the site meets all other conditions, it will excavate massive caverns 600 metres below the surface that can safely contain 3.8 billion litres of water.

Sounds crazy ambitious, eh? Continue reading Water battery: Riverbank Power brings new twist to pumped storage