A start on solar: More to come.
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?
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.