Did Somebody Say Solar Breakfast?

That’s not all one Nova Scotia researcher is cooking up!

Students in the AERLab Research Microgrid kitchen - NSCC, Ivany Campus

Solar energy can power appliances, charge electric cars, heat your home — even cook your breakfast!

“Oatmeal, eggs and coffee, and it comes from solar energy!”

That’s how Dr. Wayne Groszko starts his day in the AERLab Research Microgrid at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). The applied research scientist is passionate about renewable energy. He says the best part about his lab at the NSCC Ivany Campus in Dartmouth is the 30 solar panels on the roof that run the kitchen.

Dr. Wayne Groszko, enjoying a solar breakfast in the AERLab Research Microgrid kitchen — NSCC, Ivany Campus

After breakfast, Groszko applies his solar expertise to the Deployable Microgrid. It’s a self-contained, transportable unit that generates and stores renewable energy — a cleaner version of a generator.

The microgrid is the only one of its kind in Nova Scotia. It uses solar energy to produce 7.2 kilowatts of power, and to charge a 48-volt back-up battery. Currently Groszko’s team is using the energy to charge their electric car.

The battery in the deployable microgrid, when charged, stores 50 kilowatt-hours of energy.

“There is enough battery power inside the container to run a house for 3 days or to power a small rock concert,” says Groszko.

The Deployable Microgrid at the NSCC

Even when it’s raining, the sun is still shining at the microgrid. Groszko says one of the most common myths about solar is that solar energy can only work on a sunny day. When it rains, solar panels generate less energy, and the container runs on stored solar energy from the previous day. The rain also keeps the panels clean. In winter, the snowy ground reflects sunlight onto the panels.

“Solar energy is by far the biggest energy source in the world,” says Groszko. “It’s accessible most places in the world. Now it’s a matter of getting the tools to harvest it so that we can tap into this accessible energy source.”

Nova Scotia recently launched a new program to harness the power of the sun. The SolarHomes Program makes solar energy more affordable by giving homeowners a rebate of up to $10,000 on installation costs. Families can potentially reduce their energy costs by about $1,300 every year.

Looking to the future, Groszko hopes deployable microgrids can become a marketable product. They have the potential to make a difference during a crisis, especially in remote areas.

Through his work, Groszko is changing the way we see the sun and helping solar energy be a bigger part of Nova Scotia’s cleaner energy future.

Maybe someday we’ll all know the joy of starting our day with a solar breakfast.

Find out more about Nova Scotia’s solar energy programs by visiting www.novascotia.ca/solar

Deployable Microgrid at the NSCC, Ivany Campus