A number of renewable energy options are starting to gain traction in Canada. Notable examples are solar thermal and electrical energy, wind-generated electricity and biofuels. Solar energy represents a realistic opportunity in the multi-residential sector, since solar energy systems can be implemented as cost-effective energy and water efficiency retrofits in existing buildings.
Examples of solar systems that can be installed are (in order from easiest to install to most complex):
- solar thermal systems for outdoor swimming pool heating
- solar thermal systems for domestic hot water
- solar photovoltaic systems for generating electricity
- solar thermal systems for makeup air preheating
Because of the potential variation in factors affecting costs and savings, the payback period for each of the above-mentioned types of systems can also vary quite a bit. Owners and managers must look at their own capital costs and potential savings to determine a realistic payback period when thinking about installing such systems in their buildings. They should also consult qualified energy management professionals before any installation is done. A further thing to consider is that the installation of these systems requires a certain amount of space and can prove to be rather complex. Nevertheless, solar energy system retrofits are an interesting way to reduce purchased energy consumption and costs.