Science & Tech

Stained glass windows generate electricity at Saskatchewan cathedral

  • Aug 05, 2013
  • 367 words
  • 2 minutes
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It may be the first solar stained glass installation in any cathedral in the world.

Artist Sarah Hall’s stained glass artwork, Lux Gloria, at Saskatoon’s Cathedral of the Holy Family is not only beautiful — it contains solar cells that produce electricity the cathedral can actually use.

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Hall’s glass art covers one side of Regent College’s 12-metre tall wind tower. (Photo: Michael Elkan)

In addition to energy, the piece has generated awareness about solar power in a province where electricity use and emissions are high.

“I think there is some wonderful potential in moving ahead, making renewables beautiful and making them integrate into our daily architecture,” Hall says.

In the past, she has used geometric structures in her artwork and combined them with natural elements. It made sense to her, then, to include solar cells in her artwork, though she doesn’t know of any other artist in North America doing this.

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Hall’s work, Lux Gloria, generates electricity for the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Saskatoon, Sask.. (Photo: Grant Kernan)

“If I can have people look at it and be engaged, and do something beautiful for my clients, who gather energy through their installations, then that makes a little bit of a contribution.”

Kevin Hudson, a metering and sustainable electricity manager with Saskatoon Light & Power, says the Lux Gloria may be the smallest system connected to its grid, but it’s also the system with the highest profile. He says it can generate up to 2,500 KW hours a year. While that isn’t enough to meet all of the cathedral’s electricity needs, it certainly helps offset the cathedral’s reliance on other forms of energy.

Solar is still a lightweight in the energy ring, representing only 0.5 per cent of worldwide energy generation in 2011. According to Hudson, Saskatchewan residents use more energy and produce more greenhouse gas emissions per capita than anywhere else in Canada, with one third of energy production coming from oil and gas.

Hudson is hopeful Hall’s artwork will make people more aware of solar energy as a potential option for their electricity needs.

See more of Sarah Hall’s work on her website.

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