COLLABORATION

Université de Sherbrooke seeks partners for one-of-a-kind solar research facility

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Université de Sherbrooke is looking to collaborate with industry leaders on its new solar park.

After inaugurating the country’s largest solar power plant dedicated to applied research, the Université de Sherbrooke is looking to collaborate with industry leaders to develop technologies and expertise that can be exported around the world.

The university expects the wealth of data collected from the instrumented solar panels will enable the industry to take the next step in mainstreaming solar power.

Dedicated to research, the new park allows faculty to experiment on and study a range of state-of-the-art technologies. They will be working alongside energy companies such as Stace, Rackam and CanAm.

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Hydro-Sherbrooke also came on board the project at the development phase, while Hydro-Québec has contributed by sharing data from its solar projects.

“Thanks to seed investment from the upper levels of government, the Université de Sherbrooke has established partnerships that are creating multiple spin-offs for Sherbrooke and Quebec. We are expecting additional investment from the industry, as many Quebec and international groups have already shown an interest in these unique facilities,” Rector of the university, Dr Pierre Cossette, said in a statement released Thursday.

“This collaborative approach will accelerate knowledge transfer into innovative and practical solutions to tackle the major global issues of producing renewable energy and fighting greenhouse gases, and we are obviously very proud of this contribution.”

The solar park itself has transformed the Sherbrooke campus. It consists of a smart solar generation system on the roof of the power plant for the main campus, as well as an experimental thermal storage system at the Parc innovation. Solar panels have also been placed on the roof of the Centre Sportif Yvon-Lamarche and the Scale-up Centre. There are also 25 solar trackers in or near the Parc innovation.

The whole project cost C$5.9 million, the majority of which was provided by the government. Canada has made strong commitments to switching to clean energy, striving to have 90 percent of the country’s electricity coming from non-emitting sources by 2030.

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They have also pledged to double public investment in clean energy research, development and demonstration before 2020.

“The solar park will allow researchers to make more scientific discoveries in the renewable energy sector and will put the Université de Sherbrooke at the forefront,” said MP for Compton-Stanstead and Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau.

“Supporting projects that make the environment a priority is consistent with our vision of a clean-growth economy.”