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A unique tilting solar carport has been installed on the south side of SAIT’s Green Building Technologies (GBT) Lab and Demonstration Centre. Covering six stalls, the carport combines solar panels on its roof with solar tracking technology. By tilting to follow the sun — the panels are designed to tilt from five to 50 degrees — the panels are able to generate almost 20% more energy than static panels of the same size.
Solar carports and tracking solar panels already exist, but SAIT put the two technologies together.
“We knew we wanted to have the tilting solar panels for the extra energy production,” says Tom Jackman, Principal Investigator, Green Building Technologies. “I didn’t find that while shopping around.”
So, Jackman worked with SAIT’s Sol Aasland, Project Coordinator – Net Zero Energy, and Brandon Pool (AT ’13), Research Assistant, to design their own.
“This shows we have the knowledge, ability and technology necessary to reduce our environmental footprint,” he says. “It’s a step in the right direction — a first step in potentially more solar installations at SAIT.”
With 60 solar panels, the carport can produce 17,000 watts of electricity under full sun. After a snowfall, it can be tilted to a steep incline so snow will slide off. In one year, the carport can generate enough electricity to power three homes.
All energy produced by GBT’s solar energy systems is used to power the GBT labs and the carport’s panel tilting function, and to charge electric-powered cars parked there. When the GBT Lab produces more energy than it needs, the excess is fed into the grid and helps power the Thomas Riley Building.