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PV on schools could mean work for consulting engineers

Schools across Toronto will be covered with solar panels over the next three years, the Toronto District School Board recently announced.


Schools across Toronto will be covered with solar panels over the next three years, the Toronto District School Board recently announced.

A joint venture entity known as AMP Solar LP has entered into a contract that will see it fix up to 450 school building roofs, and in return be able to install solar photovoltaic panels to generate electricity.

The school board will share in the revenue from the generated power over the next 20 years.

The agreement is made possible “100%” by the Ontario government’s feed-in-tariff program, says Dave Rogers, the president and CEO of AMP Solar Group. AMP Solar Group is in joint venture with Potential Solar Inc. as AMP Solar LP for the contract.

Rogers says that they have already assessed over 150 schools from the school board’s portfolio, and found 61 that are in need of repair.  However, they might fix a roof, but not necessarily use it to install solar panels on. Rogers explains: “Part of this deal is that the roofing [repairs] and where the panels go is not linked directly. … There are roofs that we will fix that we do not put solar panels on because the structural assembly of the building cannot hold the weight.”

This arrangement works, because the solar company already knows that even if some school buildings can’t support panels, across the board there are roofs able to install 300,000 panels, enough to generate 66 MW of electricity.

Will this mean any work for consulting engineering companies? Rogers says, “absolutely.” “We have a  core design team in-house,” he says, but “we outsource a lot of components such as structural engineering, electrical, mechanical, and some of the CAD work.”

They also outsource the entire construction management to construction companies like AECON, says Rogers, and those companies also hire a lot of engineers.

AMP Solar also has a contract to install solar PV panels on all the IKEA stores in Ontario. Their other installations so far include the York Separate School Board, TD Bank, and Royal Bank, says Rogers.