Photonics as energy source for advanced manufacturing in Canada
Photovoltaics (PV) a photonics technology is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect utilized for electricity generation and as photosensors.
A photovoltaic system employs solar modules, each comprising a number of solar cells, which generate electrical power.
As depicted in the PV Magazine by JOE BEBON Canada has installed 70MW of PV in 2020. Canada ended 2020 with a total wind capacity of 13,588 MW, a total solar capacity of roughly 3,000 MW, significant growth in energy storage, and a "positive forecast for 2021," said Robert Hornung, president and CEO of CanREA, the Canadian Renewable Energy Association.
With strong Canadian Photovoltaic research in Universities like Ottawa U which aims to improve energy conversion. Canada is benefiting from added value even though it is not manufacturing the solar cells. All manufacturing processes use energy; there seems to be a major benefit from the cost-effective energy generation through photonics. At the same time by adopting photovoltaics, manufacturing is reducing its carbon footprint significantly. The next generation of photovoltaics is already in the works and making its entry through Organic Photovoltaic benefiting the Agro-industry and providing the possibility of electrical energy generation indoors, for greenhouses, food processing etc.
There is nevertheless a problem that needs to be solved as pointed out in Canada's national observer article published in November 2020 written by Leigh Matthews that states "In 2020, Canada's solar sector is expected to produce 700 metric tonnes of waste from decommissioned solar panels. By 2030, that figure could rise to 13,000 metric tonnes, yet Canada has no dedicated solar panel recycling facility, nor any incentives for sustainable manufacturing." The article is also suggesting a fix an "Investment in recycling infrastructure is important, and regulations like EPR(Extended Producer Responsibility) could help promote greater adoption of high-value recycling. This is something First Solar Inc. is trying to develop to establish "circularity in the PV value chain." The U.S.-based photovoltaics company has a large presence in Canada, having established at least three of Canada's largest solar farms."