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Harnessing the power of the sun

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | February 23rd, 2009

Renewable energy is the future for Fanshawe

Two Fanshawe College professors are taking all the right steps to ensure solar power is a reliable source of energy for our future.

John Makaran, Chair at the School of Manufacturing Sciences and Ke Liu, School of Manufacturing Sciences at Fanshawe College, have succeeded in securing the funding to further develop their solar energy project.

Last week London Hydro jumped on board by providing $45,000 for the estimated three-year project; and is encouraging other sources to help fund the project.

Fanshawe College has also donated $16,000.

Liu mentioned they are still waiting to see where the remainder of the money will come from for the project.

According to the proposal regarding the solar energy project, the objective is to implement an optimized algorithm (a sequence of finite instructions) for the delivery of electrical power to a grid base.

The 3kW PV array (data structure consisting of a group of elements) is to be built at Fanshawe College as a platform for the outlined project.

“Our main goal is to design an algorithm that will kick in to the grid so Hydro can actually manage energy peak times better,” said Makaran.

Makaran stated that they would work together with the engineers of Hydro who will help with the connection of the array to the grid.

Together they will investigate ways that will make solar power more accessible as a better energy option for the future.

Fifty students in the Manufacturing Sciences programs at Fanshawe will be engaged in a big way, according to the professors.

“This project has many little projects associated with it. We can create small mini projects for the students to work on,” said Makaran. “With the right time allotted along with the proper documentation, we have a move towards project based learning.”

Fanshawe College greatly acknowledges applied research as one of its key strategic direction. In 2005, the college opened its Centre for Applied Research and University Partnerships, which at present has produced innovative studies in the health-care and technology fields of work.

Fanshawe is part of a 10 college Ontario research group, and presently there are 49 projects in the works.

Makaran and Liu would like to see that bar raised to 50 ongoing projects at Fanshawe College.

According to Makaran and Liu, Fanshawe is focusing on applied research where there is more of an immediate benefit while engaging the students of the program.

“The project is going to train students to have a new relative skill set upon graduation,” said Makaran. “Sustainable energy is a new improving area and will be in demand for people with these skill sets.”

According to Ontario Power Generation, more than 50 per cent of Ontario's electricity needs are through nuclear power.

The national energy board suggests that about 13 per cent of Canada's generation capacity used specifically coal-fired plants.

Twenty-two per cent from hydroelectric stations and about five per cent comes from natural gas-fired plants.

School of Manufacturing Sciences at Fanshawe College will have its name officially changed to Applied Science and Technology come fall of 2009.
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