Winnipeg school puts solar troughs to test in cold climate

A Winnipeg college is testing whether or not solar power is a viable option for heating homes during Canada’s long, cold winters.

Red River College tests solar troughs as viable heating option for cold climates

Eight of these solar troughs have been installed in Winnipeg to see if they're a viable energy-producing option for cooler climates. (Marianne Klowak/CBC)

A Winnipeg college is testing whether or not solar power is a viable option for heating homes during Canada’s long, cold winters.

Red River College has installed eight solar troughs on their Notre Dame campus to test how well the technology stands up to cold weather.

Researchers are looking for ways to produce heat and energy in the north while reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

“It’s a pretty big deal. I mean, not only do we have federal support, but we are working with our academic partners as well as Manitoba Hydro, which is one of the major companies on this project,” said Ray Hoemsen, the director of applied research for the college.

The troughs can produce enough heat to power 5,000 LED light bulbs or heat about eight to 10 homes on a cold winter day.

The troughs have already had success in warmer climates but are in Winnipeg to see how they stand up to cold weather.

About 150 students are involved in the project, which is being done in partnership between the college, the University of Manitoba and Manitoba Hydro.

“It appears we are the most northerly installation of this particular technology in the world today, so from that perspective, we are on the forefront,” said Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Dale Friesen.

But, Friesen said, the results won’t necessarily translate to cheaper heating costs.

“That doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future. We have to walk down that path, explore the feasibility and then assess where that takes us, economically,” he said. 

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