Glenbarra Energy Management Corp. (GEMCO)

February 07, 2011 20:48 ET

Solar "Utility" Delivering Hot Water to Three City Facilities

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 7, 2011) - Thanks to a novel financing approach, three City of Toronto facilities are now opening their taps for hot water heated by the sun without any increase in their energy bills or having to put up any funds for the solar equipment itself.

Glenbarra Energy Management Corp (GEMCO) recently activated 237 solar water heating panels at three locations: the Toronto Zoo, the Birchmount Recreation Centre, and True Davidson Acres, a long- term care facility. Glenbarra will own and operate the systems and provide the facilities with hot water under a long-term energy purchase agreement.

"Solar hot water heating is a proven, effective, zero-emission technology," explains Darren Cooper, President and CEO of GEMCO. "The innovation we provide is a utility-style service – we install and maintain the solar system and the City facilities get hot water at the same price as fossil-fuel heated water, without up-front capital costs, operations and maintenance responsibilities or pollution."

Commercial financing for the three systems has been provided by the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF), an arm's length agency of the City of Toronto, which has a mandate to help the City reduce air pollution and meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets through strategic investments. Emissions of approximately 137 tonnes of CO2 are expected to be avoided by the solar systems on the three City facilities over the next 20 years, the equivalent to driving a medium-sized car approximately 8 million kilometres.

"This is an excellent investment, from TAF's perspective, because it offers a competitive financial return as well as a pollution prevention return thanks to the use of clean solar energy," explains Tim Stoate, Associate Director of Impact Investing for TAF. "TAF's investment is also demonstrating a new approach to doing business -- essentially the creation of a renewable energy utility -- which GEMCO and others can use to advance new lines of business."

"The utility model removes one of the biggest barriers to installing solar water heating systems – the upfront capital cost of the equipment and the general lack of familiarity with the technology. Now companies, institutions and governments can simply contract for hot water just as they do from the gas or electric utilities," Stoate says. "You just turn on the tap."

"We expect that these systems will be able to meet close to half of the facilities hot water needs," says Cooper, noting that Toronto has quite good solar conditions with more sunshine over the course of a year than world solar leader Germany.

GEMCO is a privately owned Ontario company and has already constructed over 2MW of solar energy projects comprising some of the largest solar systems in the GTA including systems at Sick Kids Hospital and University of Toronto.

The Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) is an agency of the City of Toronto. TAF operates at no cost to the city using its own endowment to support initiatives that improve urban air quality and reduce Toronto's climate impact. TAF has been sparking action to address energy waste and increase use of clean energy in Toronto for 20 years and works with a variety of partners, including corporations, federal and provincial governments and community organizations, to leverage its investments in climate change action to improve our City.

Facts & Figures

Toronto Zoo:

  • 50 roof mounted flat plate collectors on the Administrative Operations Complex.
  • Will provide approximately 44% of the building's annual hot water needs

Birchmount Community Centre

  • 150 roof-mounted flat plate collectors
  • Water for showers, washrooms and, potentially, swimming pool heating
  • Will provide approximately 49% of the Centre's domestic hot water needs

True Davidson Acres

  • 37 roof-mounted evacuated tube collectors
  • Will provide 40% of the building's annual domestic hot water needs

Contact Information

    Darren Cooper
    Toronto Atmospheric Fund
    Tim Stoate