Toronto Solar City Assessment Partnership

Solar panels for a municipal pool in Toronto

Unsure of the real-world performance of solar energy systems, the City of Toronto's Toronto Atmospheric Fund decided to evaluate 16 projects completed on municipal properties. The projects included solar-powered water heating at community pools and a solar wall to pre-heat air at a community centre. Four large solar photovoltaic arrays sending electricity to the provincial grid were also studied.

Independent experts visited all 16 sites and gathered data on energy production, annual costs, maintenance challenges and payback periods.

A list of best practices for solar energy projects was developed and shared with industry, municipal staff and the public at six information sessions.  The detailed reports on each project are shared on the web.


Environmental Economic Social
  • Reduced reliance on fossil fuels
  • One outdoor pool's solar energy system produced 4,515 kilowatt hours per month to heat the pool
  • Estimated payback period for photovoltaic arrays ranged from 13 to 18 years
  • Payback for optimized solar heating of an outdoor pool was estimated to be 14.8 years
  • Best practices to guide future projects
  • All results are available to the public on the website


  • Technical problems with solar-heated pool systems and solar-powered indoor heat systems
  • Rodent damage to domestic solar-heated water systems
  • Improperly installed monitoring equipment

Lessons learned

  • Solar energy systems work best if the on-site operator is trained by the system installer.
  • Solar energy projects should provide for ongoing monitoring.
  • Inform local councillors and communities of municipal solar energy initiatives.

Partners and Collaborators

Project Contact

Tim Van Seters
Manager, Sustainable Technologies Evaluation Program
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
T. 289-268-3902

Want to explore all GMF-funded projects? Check out the Projects Database for a complete overview of funded projects and get inspired by municipalities of all sizes, across Canada. 

Visit the projects database