Solar energy seminar set to heat up this year's trade show

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by Jessica Patterson last update:Oct 17, 2014

Sunshine makes cents for one Buildex Calgary seminar presenter this year.
Solar energy seminar set to heat up this year's trade show


At the seminar, Solar Energy that Works in Western Canada, presenter David Kelly will fill attendees in on the economics of solar energy and installation that works.

“Solar energy is becoming much more competitive,” said Kelly, the president of SkyFire Energy Inc.

“The economics of solar energy are now a feasible option for a lot of buildings.”

In the past, he explained, it was a very expensive proposition.

“You really had to want solar to afford it and put it in the budget,” he said.

In the seminar, Kelly will compare the cost of a solar system with the cost of buying grid power for the next 15-25 years.

“Solar power is cheaper than grid power today, in Alberta,” he said.

He said companies buying electricity from wind power or renewable energy certificates don’t have to go that route anymore.

If they decided to go solar, they’re making their own electricity.

About 75 to 80 per cent of Alberta’s electricity generation comes from coal, Kelly explained.

“We have the dirtiest electrical generation system in Canada,” he said.

The solar systems Kelly’s SkyFire Energy is installing these days are grid-tied because he said they’re cheaper, more reliable and they harvest more solar energy than if you had batteries.

Solar energy has boomed across Alberta.

Most municipalities allow businesses to generate their own solar power and feed excess back into the grid. New incentives from the government provide 15 cents/kWh to solar owners.

Alberta is a prime location for solar energy.

Calgary is famous for its sunny skies, with 322 sunny days on average each year, with 130 of those days during the coldest months of the year.

“We did the last station of the new west LRT in Calgary,” Kelly said.

“There is a 30 kW system there. It is the second-largest system in Calgary.”

Kelly’s company also has a 62kW solar project starting in the spring of 2013 near the new South Health Campus.

They’ve done large projects like a 60kW ground-mounted module installation in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories.

“It’s owned by the electricity utility. Because they generate most of their electricity with diesel generators, by going to solar it’s cheaper for them to run their diesel,” Kelly said.

“It’s ground-mounted near the airport. They had lots of space out in the field, so we put it there.”

In Penticton, solar panels were installed at the campus of Okanagan College, a 260kW system that will provide energy for the next 30 to 50 years.

“I don’t think it generates 100 per cent of their electricity. We just couldn’t get enough modules on the roof,” he said.

“Their roof is covered, everywhere we could squeeze a module on.”

Solar energy can also be seen across the province, at the University of Calgary Child Development Centre, the ENMAC Conservatory at the Calgary Zoo, SAIT’s TransAlta Solar Research Project, Calgary’s Municipal Centre, as well as the high school in Lacombe, at Rundle College and the Big Hill Leisure Centre.

“Solar energy is easy, it’s clean, it works. And now, the economics are fine,” he said.

Seminar W12 - Solar Energy that Works in Western Canada is taking place on Nov. 7 starting at 11 a.m.

last update:Oct 17, 2014

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