Energy Division

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Solar Energy


Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into usable energy. Solar thermal heating and solar photovoltaic are solar technologies.

The sun generates an enormous amount of energy each second, by converting hydrogen to helium.

Called solar radiation, this energy radiates into space and reaches the earth as:

  • sunlight (47%)
  • ultraviolet rays (7%), and
  • infrared radiation or heat (46%).

The components harnessed or used by solar energy technologies are sunlight and infrared radiation.

Manitoba Hydro's Solar Energy Program

  • Manitoba Hydro recently launched a Solar Energy Program under its PowerSmart program. For more information on how Manitoba Hydro can help you get solar photovoltaic installed in your home or business visit: Manitoba Hydro's Solar Energy Program.
Converting Solar Radiation into Electricity

Photovoltaic (PV) cells produce electricity directly from sunlight. PV cells are also called solar cells, photovoltaic cells, photocells, or photoelectric cells.

When light strikes the junction between certain materials, a small voltage is produced. This is called a photovoltaic effect.

A typical PV cell contains two very thin layers of silicon with a wire attached to each layer. Each PV cell measures from 8 to 15 centimetres (3 - 6 inches) in diameter with the thickness of a human hair.

When very small bundles of light energy from the sun called Photons strike the cell, they cause electrons to flow from the bottom layer of the cell to the top layer.

Freed electrons are forced to flow through the wire, and any electrical load connected to it, towards the bottom layer producing an electric current. The current will continue as long as sunlight falls on the PV cell.

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Information and statistics excerpted from:
Photovoltaic Systems in Manitoba
download the pdf (1.5 MB) english | french


Solar Thermal Energy

Solar radiation can be converted into solar thermal energy or SOLAR HEAT ENERGY.  The simplest systems such as solar air heating and solar water heating convert solar radiation into heat for space and water heating.

How Solar Air or Water Heating Works

A solar heating system generally consists of collectors, thermal storage, a circulation sub-system and controls.  A key element is the solar thermal collector which can be viewed as areas where the reception and conversion of solar radiation into heat energy occurs.   Common solar thermal collectors include flat plate and tube collectors.

The captured thermal energy is transferred to heat storage or to the place where it will be used (e.g. heating building space), using a fluid which is often water/glycol; or  through the use of air as a heat transfer medium.  When the heat transfer medium is a liquid, the storage unit can be a water tank that stands alone, or is connected to an existing conventional gas or electric hot water tank (e.g. a hybrid system).

All but the most simple types of solar heating systems have a circulation system to keep the heat-transfer continually moving from collector to storage unit.  Unless the flow is by natural convection, a pump or fan is needed to force the heat-transfer medium on its way. A control unit, with a temperature sensor, turns the pump or fan on and off as required to maintain temperatures in the system.


A Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit is available from the Government of Manitoba for eligible solar thermal energy equipment.

A repayable loan may be available from Manitoba Hydro to finance the purchase of a solar water heating system installed in a residence.

Save now with a Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit for SOLAR THERMAL ENERGY Installations...AND save later on your energy bills.


Quick Facts on Solar Energy



Perhaps the most mature technology, the solar domestic hot water system, has a long history where it was first deployed on a large scale in the 1960s in countries such as Australia, Japan and Israel.
Solar energy systems are often used in remote areas to provide electricity for cottages, telecommunications equipment, water pumping and electric fencing on farms, and navigational aids. Solar thermal systems harness solar energy for thermal energy (heat) and can heat building space and water for homes, commercial buildings, swimming pools and domestic hot water use.

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Contacts

For information on solar energy for buildings or to discuss solar thermal/heating integration with other energy systems, including geothermal technologies, contact:

Robert Walger
Project Manager - Solar Heating / Solar Thermal
Energy Division
Government of Manitoba
Winnipeg MB 
Tel: 204-945-7905 
Email: Robert.Walger@gov.mb.ca

 

For information on large scale
solar photovoltaic,
contact:

Rick Halas
Project Manager - Solar Electricity
Energy Division
Government of Manitoba
Winnipeg MB 
Tel: 204-945-4004
Email: Rick.Halas@gov.mb.ca

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