A day without sunshine, is like a day with a cold car wash. Today, Suncor Energy Products Inc. officially opened the first car wash of its kind to use solar pool heating technology to help heat its water, a system that uses Canadian-made technologies and funding from the Canadian government. The solar panel installation is designed to reduce the car wash’s use of natural gas for water heating by an estimated 16,000 cubic metres per year. This is expected to result in reduced carbon dioxide emissions of 30 metric tons annually at the facility. The car wash is located at Suncor Energy Product’s Sunoco station at 7750 McCowan Rd. in Markham, Ont (McCowan and 14th.) The solar system was designed by Enermodal Engineering of Kitchener, Ont. and delivered and installed by ARISE Technologies Corporation also of Kitchener. The Government of Canada contributed to the project via Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative (REDI.) “This an exciting new initiative and one that we hope will make a meaningful contribution to the development of solar energy applications,” said Kathy Crooks, Vice President, Branded Sales for Suncor Energy Products. “A practical installation like this demonstrates that Canadian businesses can make an environmental difference in many aspects of their operations. It’s our hope that this Sunoco solar car wash will demonstrate the viability of solar energy for other day-to-day applications.” Forty solar panels have been installed on the roof of the otherwise conventional car wash. The panels offer 178 square metres (1,920 square feet) of area to collect solar thermal energy. The panels are made of a polypropylene, polyethylene, black surface co- polymer compound with a proprietary ultraviolet stabilizer. Water passes through a series of channels in the panels to be heated by the sun’s energy. Once heated, the water is stored in a hot water drain back tank. When required for use, the water passes through a stainless steel flat-plate heat exchanger that can transfer up to 300,000 BTU/hour (90KW.) The car wash continues to employ a conventional natural gas water heating system to bring the water up to the final temperature required for optimal car wash results. On average it takes approximately 260 litres of hot water to wash a car, the same as an entire household’s single day use. It’s estimated that the 1,500 car washes across Canada use more than 2 million gigajoules of energy per year. Suncor Energy Products operates 58 Sunoco car washes in Ontario and hopes to introduce this solar technology in other appropriate locations once this installation has proven its benefits.