RIVERSDALE SOLAR INSTALLATION COULD START LOCAL TREND FOR SOLAR PANEL INSTALLATION
Arranged in neat rows on the roof of a Riversdale office building, Saskatoon’s largest solar panel installation could pave the way for similar projects in public and private developments, according to Shift Development’s owner and CEO.
“We recognized that we had a perfect roof for doing solar and good economics here, and we realized we could produce one-third of the power on the building to support the community,” said Curtis Olson, whose firm owns and operates the Two Twenty on 20th Street West.
Expected to come online in early June, the $85,000, 90-panel development is rated to produce 27.5 kilowatts for about 25 years. Olson said it will shave about 40 per cent from the building’s $18,000 annual electrical bill.
To see a cool drone shot of this project go HERE
“We’re educating ourselves and we’re learning, and we’re doing it as a means to roll it into future projects,” he said, adding that while solar remains capital-intensive, over the last decade it has become sustainable, meaning it pays for itself over time.
The installation is owned by the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s (SES) Solar Co-operative, which is developing several solar energy projects. Shift Development will use the electricity it produces and return the money it saves to the Solar Co-operative.
“The process by which we’ve come here, and what we’ve achieved and what we’ve built, can be emulated, so we’re hopeful that this will spur a lot of other groups to do the same,” said Solar Co-operative president Joe Schmutz.
The co-operative raised about $100,000 through its membership program — which costs $1,000 — and has received funds and grants from Affinity Credit Union, Bullfrog Power Inc. and SaskPower, according to the project’s manager.
“Our economic analysis shows that, if all goes well, we will have a positive rate of return on this first project for the members,” Jason Praski said a few minutes after the installation was unveiled Tuesday morning.
Solar power is becoming cheaper and more efficient all the time, and a rate hike proposed by SaskPower earlier this month will “quicken the payback” for anyone prepared to front the cost of a low-maintenance solar installation, Praski said.
The City of Saskatoon is also eyeing small-scale clean power projects. Its electrical utility hopes distributed generation hydro, solar and gas flare projects will contribute 10 per cent of its power needs by 2030.
Besides generating electricity, the glistening blue solar panels on the Two Twenty are expected to remove about 20 tonnes of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year, according to Schmutz.
“It’s a small thing, but we all realize we need this project, and we need many more like it.”
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