National Research Council Canada-NRC

National Research Council Canada-NRC

October 21, 2010 11:45 ET

Government of Canada Investment Leads to Milestone in the Development of Solar Powered Energy

New Solar Tracking Module Lighting the Path to Cleaner Energy Solutions for the Future

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 21, 2010) - Canadians could one day power their homes affordably with solar power, thanks in part to a Government of Canada investment of $1,751,000. Member of Parliament for Ottawa–Orléans, Royal Galipeau, on behalf of the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for Science and Technology, today unveiled and powered on the "solar tracker" – a new highly efficient clean energy technology.

"Our government is investing in science and technology to improve the quality of life of Canadians, strengthen the economy and create jobs," said Mr. Galipeau. "This new technology will give Canadian families access to clean solar energy in a more cost-effective solution."

The semiconductors using nanostructures for record increases in solar cell efficiency (SUNRISE) project stems from research and development efforts to bring clean power generation technologies to Canadians. The concentrator photovoltaic solar tracker is installed at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology in Ottawa and jointly operated by the National Research Council of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The system can generate over 2 kilowatts of electricity which means that on a sunny day, it could provide a large fraction of the electricity needed to power a typical home.

While solar cells already generate emission-free electricity in many remote locations in Canada, they are not yet cost-effective as the primary source of electricity in homes and businesses already connected to the electrical grid. SUNRISE proposes a new class of modules based on novel high efficiency solar cells which have shown promising results in performance compared to existing technology, making these next generation solar cells an ideal prospect for commercialization in regions of abundant direct sunshine.

SUNRISE is funded by the National Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Business Development Bank of Canada. The project is a research collaboration between the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Ottawa, the Université de Sherbrooke, and industrial partners Cyrium Technologies Inc. and Opel International Inc.

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BACKGROUNDER

Government of Canada investment leads to milestone in the development of solar powered energy

The SUNRISE Project

The SUNRISE project (Semiconductors Using Nanostructures for Record Increases in Solar-cell Efficiency) stems from the research and development efforts to bring clean power generation technologies to Canadians. The research examines the use of nanostructures called quantum dots to enhance the efficiency of multi-junction solar cells incorporated into a working system which concentrates the sunlight and tracks its position during the day. The focus on renewable green energy sources has resulted in exponential growth of the solar energy industry globally. 

The solar tracker can generate over 2 kilowatts of electricity. On a sunny day, it could provide a large fraction of the electricity needed to power a typical home. The solar tracker is installed at the Canadian Centre for Housing Technology in Ottawa. The Centre is a partnership between the National Research Council of Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Its mission is to accelerate the development of new technologies and their acceptance in the marketplace. Its role in the SUNRISE project is to provide an opportunity for this leading edge solar conversion technology to be demonstrated for the first time in a realistic home setting. By integrating the SUNRISE concentrator photovoltaic solar collector into the home's electrical system, and by also tying it to the electrical grid, the Centre's highly monitored houses can tell how much electrical power is being generated by the collector and where that power is being used in the home. If there is a surplus of electricity being generated, the monitoring system can also tell how much is being sent to the grid and for how long. This information assists the research team in capturing how well the SUNRISE collector is performing and generating electricity for use in the home and for export to the grid.

While solar cells already generate emission-free electricity in many remote locations in Canada, they are not yet cost-effective as the primary source of electricity in homes and businesses already connected to the electrical grid. The SUNRISE project proposes a new class of concentrator photovoltaic solar cells incorporating quantum dots, which have shown promising results in performance compared to existing technology, making them an ideal prospect for commercialization in regions of abundant direct sunshine.

Support for SUNRISE

The SUNRISE project is a research collaboration between the National Research Council of Canada, the University of Ottawa, the Université de Sherbrooke, and industrial partners Cyrium Technologies Inc. and Opel International Inc.

The Government of Canada's total investment in the SUNRISE project is $1,751,000. The project is funded by the National Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Business Development Bank of Canada. The National Research Council of Canada's contribution totals $711,000 over three years.

The SUNRISE project was funded through the Nanotechnology Initiative program launched in 2008. The Initiative – a $15-million federal investment – is jointly managed by the National Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Business Development Bank of Canada. It aimed to support collaborative nanotechnology research and development and assist in the commercialization of emerging technologies – one of the biggest challenges that Canadian innovators are facing.

The National Research Council of Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada shared funding costs while the Business Development Bank of Canada provided expertise to help the researchers commercialize their technologies. 

Both industrial partners, Cyrium Technologies Inc. and Opel International Inc., provided substantial in-kind material and engineering contributions to the project, and worked closely with the research teams at the National Research Council of Canada, the Université de Sherbrooke and the University of Ottawa.

Contact Information

  • National Research Council Canada
    Media Relations
    613-991-1431
    media@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
    or
    Office of the Honourable Gary Goodyear
    Minister of State (Science and Technology)
    Gary Toft
    Director of Communications
    613-943-7599