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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

Solar Thermal – How and Where it Works

Solar thermal energy uses solar energy via a heat exchanger to pre heat water that then goes into a hot water tank to be heated up further if necessary to supply hot water to the user to be used in swimming pools, hot showers, dishwashers or any other place we like to have our water heated.

In the next few posts we would like to provide some examples of how solar thermal energy is being used by Clean Air Council municipalities.

We are going to start by highlighting City of Burlington’s Solar Heating and Waste Heat Recovery System.


The City of Burlington in 2010 installed seasonal solar heating and a year-round waste heat recovery system at its Tansley Woods Community Centre. The 90-panel solar installation covers an area of 398 m2, and is capable of supplying up to 325kW of thermal energy—roughly 25 per cent of the energy used to heat the centre‘s swimming pool. The solar hot water system also delivers heat to the pool showers when there is solar energy available and the swimming pool is at its set temperature.

The energy supplied by the solar panels is complemented by a waste heat recovery system that collects warm water from the pool‘s drains. The warm drain water is then used to heat incoming cold city water, which helps to reduce the heating load on the facility‘s natural gas-fired boiler.

The total implementation cost of this measure was $116,970. Some of these costs were funded by the Government of Canada‘s ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat Program ($11,610), the Ontario Solar Thermal Heating Incentive ($11,610), and the Electrical Retrofit Incentive Program ($28,875). As a result of this initiative, the city should expect to see annual cost savings of $28,275, with the system paying for itself in a little over two years.

The alternative energy systems will not only save the City money, but will also contribute to significant GHG reductions. The local utility provider, Burlington Hydro, estimates that the measure will save 24,138 m3 of natural gas and 101,000 KWh of electricity per year. These energy savings amount to 67.5 tonnes of avoided GHG emissions!

Municipalities interested in implementing a similar measure should consider undertaking a comprehensive roof assessment study that review’s the roof‘s size and structural requirements, its physical condition and warranty, and the distance to the pool.

Here are more links for more information on how solar thermal energy works and its possible applications.

This example was provided by ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and Federation of Canadian Municipalities Partners for Climate Protection 2010 National Measures Report.

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