By Christopher Thrall
On Friday, June 20, the Performing Arts Centre flipped the switch to turn on the 488 photovoltaic solar panels which jacket the 70’ fly tower stretching up into the Camrose skyline. The date was significant: the following day was the 2014 summer solstice, promising over 17 hours of daylight from which the array could draw power.
This is the largest integrated solar array in Canada. It will generate an estimated 122 kW of continuous power, not only providing for some of the needs of the facility, but also selling power back into the grid off peak hours. The panels won’t need direct sunlight or cloudless skies to generate power: as long as there is light, the panels will produce electricity.
“When you flip a switch, things happen – things start up,” said Joshua Mohr, Chair of the Performing Arts Centre Camrose Management Board. “It’s particularly exciting for those of us who have been working on the building and operations of this facility for quite some time. Any time we can flip a switch and say we are one step closer to being finished is a big step indeed.”
The University of Alberta’s Senior Project Manager, Michael Madsen, demonstrated one of the 245-Watt photovoltaic panels. Easily plugged into the mounting system, each of the 488 panels on four faces of the fly tower are accessible for maintenance. In addition, since the Performing Arts Centre was designed for the future, though the hardened panels are designed for a life of 50 to 60 years, they can be easily replaced by more efficient models as the technology improves.
Other sustainable features included in the design will reduce power consumption within the facility itself. Unique in North America, the LED stage lights will use one eighth the power of regular theatre lighting, and its negligible heat output will not trouble the audience or spot lit performers. This and other features have contributed to achieving four Green Globes – the highest possible – in sustainable building certification.
At the end of the presentation, Territorial Electric Ltd. foreman Jesse Pantzouri flipped the switch to power up the photovoltaic array. The lights in the room came on to applause from the gathered crowd. The performance of this novel solar panel array will be studied by engineers, professors and students around the world for academic papers and research data to fuel future photovoltaic installations.
The Performing Arts Centre Camrose was built through a collaborative effort between the University of Alberta, the City of Camrose, Camrose County, and the Province of Alberta. The Centre will allow the area’s lovers of arts and culture to access live performance and performing space. Construction on the PACC is scheduled to be completed mid-July and the building will open to the public in October. Events are planned for the first week of October, and a grand opening gala on November 1st.
Watch for updates at the Performing Arts Centre Camrose website.