Burnaby proposes testing 100 photo voltaic panels in metropolis corridor car parking zone

The proposal comes roughly a year after the council instructed staff to investigate a solar pilot project on the City Hall campus

A parking lot in Burnaby City Hall could soon get some shade and at the same time provide emission-free energy, as the city is only a few inches closer to a pilot program for solar modules.

The city has been considering installing solar panels on its properties for about a year, and city officials have approached the Environment Committee with three options: roof installations either on the main town hall building or on the west building, or a floor-mounted installation above the parking lots and / or courtyards .

Of these three options, the staff suggested that the floor-mounted proposal would be the simpler option as it does not include structural requirements like the roof-top options. The employees specifically suggested that the city place the panels in the parking lot where their vehicle fleet is located. The parking lot has no tall structures or trees in the area to reduce sun exposure.

Apart from that, employees stated that there is a similar compensation for CO2 emissions for each option (9.7 tons of CO2 equivalent per gigawatt hour of electricity produced). Each option would also pay off in energy savings over 10 to 15 years with no structural improvements to buildings for roof panels.

Staff found that none of the roofs met the structural requirements to support solar panels, mainly due to the requirements for snow and wind load. In order to be able to carry roof panels, the employees of the town hall would have to make “extensive structural improvements”.

“This applies to every building, regardless of its age, that was not originally designed for PV solar systems on the roof (photovoltaics),” says the employee report.

The staff report pointed to parking shadow structures with solar panels at the BCIT as an example of what the city could do in its own parking lot.

A feasibility study estimated that the town hall’s two parking lots are suitable for more than 2,000 solar panels, although staff suggested starting much smaller at around 100 modules. This would allow the city to learn about solar technologies, learn about BC Hydro’s metering programs with solar, and determine solar performance before going all-in.

Those 100 panels together would produce about 43 megawatt hours (about 860,000 bags of microwave popcorn, according to Waterloo North Hydro) and cost the city about $ 150,000.

Staff said the electricity generated from the solar panels could be used quickly by providing power to the electric vehicle charging stations on the property.

City officials are seeking approval from the council to design a pilot program for the solar panels.

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