Science & Tech

Mapping solar energy potential on Victoria's rooftops

  • Apr 30, 2014
  • 294 words
  • 2 minutes
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A joint project in Victoria sheds new light on how urbanites can use solar energy.

The project — the creation of an online solar energy map — will allow city dwellers to find out how much solar energy could be captured on Victoria’s rooftops.

“Our society needs to wean itself off of fossil fuels,” says Chris Krasowski, a University of Victoria masters student who was the mastermind behind the solar energy project called VicMap. “The potential for solar energy is huge and this project will help inform people of that potential.”

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A pyranometer, which measures solar radiation. (Photo: Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

VicMap is a joint project between the University of Victoria, the City of Victoria and the Federal Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council. It will use weather data supplied by a pyranometer, an instrument used to measure solar radiation. The instrument will roost on top of the Victoria City Hall building and provide invaluable information about the sun’s spectrum for a year.

Krasowski is also interpreting more than 10 years of data on solar energy and weather patterns from the School-Based Weather System in Victoria, a weather monitoring initiative developed at the University.

When VicMap is completed in the spring of 2015, Victoria residents will be able to use the online map to zoom in on a rooftop, view the solar energy potential and identify the specific area of the roof that is best for solar equipment. Krasowski’s map model even takes shade from nearby trees and the slope of a roof into account when calculating solar potential.

“You don’t need a science degree to interpret the information on the map,” he says.

Krasowski hopes this map will set an example for other municipalities in British Columbia.

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