Your final 2 energy quesitons answered

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Visiting Editor, Chris answers your final 2 questions

During the month of June we were happy to host Chris Tyrrell as our guest editor for our Energy column. We have learned a ton and we hope you did too!

Thank-you to all our readers for their questions and thank-you to Chris for his time!

Look for more guests editors coming later in the year.


1. How does solar photovoltaic (PV) energy work?

Sunlight is converted to electricity using photovoltaic or solar cells. Photovoltaic (PV) cells are usually made of silicon and act as semiconductor devices. The cells contain no liquid, moving parts or corrosive chemicals making photovoltaic energy the cleanest and safest method of power generation.

Solar power is generated when sunlight strikes a photovoltaic cell, dislodging electrons which create an electrical current. To achieve maximum electricity production, solar panels are best installed on south-facing rooftops to capture the energy generated by the sun's rays. Solar power is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy.

2. What is the highest peak demand  Toronto Hydro has ever recorded?

In July of 2006, Toronto recorded our highest peak demand for electricity at 5,018 MW. That is enough electricity to power 83.6 million 60 watt light bulbs for one hour. The Independent Electric System Operator (IESO) who manages the supply and demand for electricity in the province is able to meet these high peak demand days by bring on various forms generation, however, it quite often requires fossil fuel generation that is not environmental friendly compared to alternatives such as renewable energy (e.g. wind, biogas, solar PV) or conservation. In fact, the cost of conserving a megawatt of power costs far less than the cost of generating a MW. That is why Toronto Hydro is working with the province and other utilities to offer conservation programs to Torontonians in all market sectors.