It’s been nearly a year since completion of the solar panel installation on the gym roof of the Gulf Islands Secondary School. After a summer of glorious sunshine, it’s time to check on how the system has performed compared with expectations.

While the rated output of the solar array is 21 kilowatts (kW) we had expected small losses at various stages – the panels themselves, the wiring and inverters – to reduce the maximum power into the grid to about 17 kW on very sunny days. So how has it performed?

GISS Scholarship Array

Beyond expectations! During May, June and July we regularly saw the output above 18 kW with some days over 19kW – a system efficiency of over 90% compared to the industry norm of 80%.

This is attributable to the care taken in the design and installation of the system. Of course that’s not the whole story – you can read the full report at saltspringcommunityenergy.com

By early October we had already surpassed our predicted annual output with a further 2800 units expected for the rest of the year. This great result means that the amount of money available for the winner of next year’s solar scholarship will be more than expected!

The system has also performed well operationally. It shut down automatically as expected for safety reasons during several BC Hydro power failures. When the power came back on, so did our system.

There’s still some work to do.

One area that still needs work is the monitoring system to show the school how much electricity is being produced from the sun. This work is well in hand. As well, we are still looking for a suitable electric vehicle charging station at the school. Lastly, planned educational materials to accompany the renewable energy aspect of the installation are now in preparation.

A big thanks again to all those who contributed to this successful project. With your time, talent and financial contributions, it was truly a community effort!

(above used with permission of Salt Spring Community Energy)