Solar energy is quickly becoming the way—or ray—of the future; however, while countries like France are busy installing solar walkways, Canada is stirring up the controversy with its carbon levy. Does that mean Canada is behind schedule on its solar developments? Not necessarily. A lot of towns and cities in Canada are making solar progress right now. Here is the latest on solar energy progress in Canada.
Solar benches are a thing of the past—Edmonton’s latest breakthrough is its new solar building
Last summer, Edmonton, Alberta made the news with its two solar-powered public benches, “Soofia” and “Winston.” Both benches, located at the Muttart Conservatory courtyard and Churchill Square respectively, are free and fully equipped for public use as smartphone charge stations. The benches were designed to use sunlight to power USB ports, even storing energy for use at night. They were an exciting development for solar energy in Canada, but that was only the beginning.
Edmonton’s newest claim to fame when it comes to solar energy in Canada is a 10-storey downtown office tower that is equipped with enough solar panels to power up to 26 houses. Located near 106 Street and 104 Avenue, directly across from the MacEwan campus, the building’s entire south side is covered by 500 solar panels, valued at $400,000. Its’ north wall is entirely built of windows in order to cut back on energy consumption by drawing natural light. According to building architect Gene Dub, it’s the largest vertical solar wall in Canada, and its panels will generate enough energy to power 80 per cent of the building’s needs.
Alberta is re-investing in its energy industry—the green way
Alberta may be making a statement with its controversial carbon levy, but it’s no secret that the NDP government feels the best way to secure against future energy-related recessions is to invest in renewable green energy sources—and that means investing in the procurement of solar energy in Canada. Alberta recently announced a $36 million rebate program for individuals who install solar panels on the rooftops of their homes and businesses. The goal is to have new solar panels on 10,000 Alberta rooftops within three years, and the program, designed to reduce solar installation costs by 25-30 per cent, is expected to create close to 900 jobs in the process. The benefit? A reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that is significant enough to equate to taking approximately 100,000 vehicles off the road.
Alberta isn’t the only Canadian province making an impact
The Northwest Territories has successfully created a solar town. Colville Lake, a community of 150 people, needed to replace an aging diesel generator, but instead of limiting itself to diesel, designed a system of batteries and solar panels that is capable of powering the community entirely on solar energy during the summer months. An impressive development for solar energy in Canada, the panels can generate approximately 136 kilowatts, and any excess power gets stored in batteries to help keep the diesel generator running at maximum efficiency during the winter months when the community receives little to no sunlight.
Solar technologies aren’t the only big developments
Net-zero homes are the next trend, with five popping up across Canada, with the help of Natural Resources Canada. The first of the homes, a 1,700 square-foot split-level that is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes over the course of a year, was built in Guelph, Ontario by Reid’s Heritage Homes—and it is only the beginning for the progress of solar energy in Canada.