A start on so­lar: More to come.

The McLeod River Post - - Front Page - Ian McInnes The McLeod River Post

I have al­ways thought that power gen­er­a­tion doesn’t have to be mega util­ity cor­po­ra­tions op­er­at­ing on a grand scale and own­ing and dom­i­nat­ing the in­fra­struc­ture and the mar­ket. The lit­tle guy can make a dif­fer­ence. Re­new­able en­ergy has be­come big busi­ness, wind, so­lar, tidal and bioen­ergy that can use waste forestry prod­ucts for ex­am­ple.

Al­berta gets a fair amount of sun­shine, an av­er­age of over 2200 hours per year so I’ve read. How­ever, it does get a tad chilly and more than a tad snowy and icy. How­ever, so­lar en­ergy pro­grams are start­ing to roll out and hope­fully more will fol­low. The Ed­son & Dis­trict Re­cy­cling So­ci­ety (EDRS) is just em­bark­ing on fit­ting so­lar pan­els to its main build­ing in Ed­son hav­ing in­stalled so­lar pan­els on the Take it or Leave It build­ing in 2015.

“We had a 17kWh (kilo­watt hour) on grid sys­tem in­stalled in the sum­mer of 2015 on the Take it or Leave it build­ing. (Net 35 per cent of our needs),” said Janai Red­man for the EDRS.

“We just in­stalled a 1.5 kWh off grid sys­tem on our new plas­tics and tin re­cy­cling area, we are try­ing out the new­est type of bat­tery which is a salt­wa­ter bat­tery. It is more ex­pen­sive but lasts way longer, is re­cy­clable at its end of life and re­quires less main­te­nance. We would also like to be­come a demon­stra­tion area for both on and off grid so­lar sys­tems. We will be­gin in­stalling an ap­prox­i­mately 17kwh on grid sys­tem on our main build­ing ad­di­tion,” said Red­man.

“Back in 2015 we added a bidi­rec­tional me­ter on our build­ing to al­low us to be a small en­ergy pro­ducer, our ul­ti­mate goal is to be­come a net zero build­ing. In the sum­mer, we over pro­duce and do over twice of our needs. In the win­ter, we pro­duce a min­i­mal amount. It is hard for us to fig­ure out our ex­act sav­ings since we are on a multi fa­cil­ity power pro­gram with the town of Ed­son. (Net 70 per cent of our needs),” said Red­man.

“We are gear­ing to­wards net zero but must con­sider that we are worth about five res­i­dences and are an in­dus­trial fa­cil­ity. We have de­vel­oped plans to en­able us to meet our goal within the next three years.

So far, we have ac­com­plished our goals via spon­sor­ship from Rep­sol En­ergy, pro­vin­cial fa­cil­ity grants, pro­vin­cial so­lar grants and through our cap­i­tal bud­get Town of Ed­son and Yel­low­head County,” said Red­man.

Clear­ing snow and ice from the so­lar pan­els on the roof is not vi­able right now for EDRS. “We do not clear the snow off our pan­els in the win­ter be­cause we al­ready get so lit­tle en­ergy from it in the win­ter any­way that the cost of clear­ing is more than the small amount of en­ergy is worth. For our off-grid sys­tem, we have to main­tain a min­i­mum tem­per­a­ture for our salt­wa­ter bat­ter­ies so we will have a low us­age propane heater,” said Red­man.

We asked the lo­cal school boards that have con­sid­er­able rooftop and ground po­ten­tial for so­lar pan­els what they were do­ing. Not a lot as they say. At the time of publi­ca­tion, we did not re­ceive a re­ply from Liv­ing Wa­ters. Speak­ing for the Grand Yel­low­head Public School Di­vi­sion (GYPSD), com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Nikki Gilks said, “In our Jasper High School project, we did set up the in­fra­struc­ture for the fu­ture in­stal­la­tion of so­lar pan­els. Un­for­tu­nately, ap­proval from the gov­ern­ment for so­lar panel in­stal­la­tion came into ef­fect after all of our cap­i­tal projects were ap­proved in­clud­ing our cur­rent re­place­ment school in Ed­son.”

Could more be done? I think so. Will more be done? I think so too. So­lar pan­els are be­com­ing cheaper and more ef­fi­cient all of the time. I’ve also read that so­lar roof tiles are an op­tional sys­tem now.

Just think. What if thou­sands or tens of thou­sands of homes could be­come 70 per cent or more self suf­fi­cient? What dif­fer­ence would that make to ma­jor util­ity power gen­er­a­tion?

Sub­mit­ted to The McLeod River Post

The two girls who are work­ing for the con­trac­tor used to work at the de­pot as high school stu­dents from Park­land high school sev­eral years ago, they are lo­cal from the Yel­low­head county area and are seen in the pic­ture.

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