Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Solar home a forgotten dream?

The solar panels are broken and it is doubtful that today they are even working.
In 1978 it was the exciting, oh-so-state-of-the-art, Sifton solar home on Viscount Street in the growing Westmount subdivision. I can recall taking pictures of the place for the paper to illustrate the glowing stories in not just the Homes section but the news pages. The roof was scientifically angled and the house situated on the lot just so; Everything designed to maximize the trapping of the sun's energy. In the basement there was a large, insulated tank to hold the water heated by the sun.

Note the tree sprouting.
I tried googling "solar home London Ontario Sifton" and I got next to nothing. There was a mention of the place in an advertising insert in the local paper but no real information. I guess interest has waned in what was said at the time to be an historic structure.

Today two of the lower panels are broken and a tree is sprouting from the steel framing. I doubt that the solar panels are still working and I wonder if the insulated water tank has been broken up and removed.

There were a number of solar installations around London in the late '70s and early '80s. Interest was high in solar energy back then, but interest soon peaked. I know of one large installation on the roof of an apartment co-op in northeast London that fell into disuse and was removed some years later.

I was surprised when the keeners running the co-op failed to make their solar installation a success. If all the volunteer effort blended with the solar energy couldn't make a rooftop solar installation succeed, one was left to wonder just who could.

I wonder if the world will be dotted in a few decades with forgotten windmills built with dreams of generating electricity from the wind.

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