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Canmore shines in solar energy report

CANMORE – If the Town of Canmore wants to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent over the next three decades it will need to explore alternative energy sources and solar energy appears to be a promising solution.
Solar Panels
The Town of Canmore intends to invest in five solar power projects on municipal buildings throughout the community over the next two years. Canmore has installed solar panels on several buildings already, including the Civic Centre pictured here.

CANMORE – If the Town of Canmore wants to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent over the next three decades it will need to explore alternative energy sources and solar energy appears to be a promising solution.

A recent analysis of the solar potential in Canmore found if solar panels were installed on every possible rooftop in Canmore it would generate enough electricity to cut more than 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or the equivalent of taking 8,600 cars off the road.

The report also found residents would, on average, be able to offset 64 per cent of their own electricity usage every year, significantly cutting their electrical bills.

“Canmore has great solar potential,” said Lori Rissling Wynn, the Town’s sustainability coordinator.

“People have a bit of a misconception in terms of whether solar is possible here in Canmore because of the mountains, but we get a lot of sunny days.”

According to the report, neighbourhoods in the northeast of town like Silvertip tend to have better solar production potential then neighbours in the southwest of Canmore like Peaks of Grassi, however overall southern Alberta has some of the highest solar irradiance levels in North America.

The report also found that rooftop geometry had a bigger impact on solar potential than the location of a house in the valley.

In fact, the authors of the report expected to see the sunny eastern side of the valley to out-perform the shady western side of the town, but found rooftop geometry had 4.3 times more impact on solar potential than the location.

Rissling Wynn said that finding underscores the importance of designing new buildings with roofs that can harness the sun’s energy.

She said the report also found residents will have a significant role to play to help the Town adopt alternative energy sources because 75 per cent of the community is zoned for residential development.

“We’re not expecting every resident to put solar on their home, but even if we saw a little bit of an uptake on residential solar that would make a significant difference,” said Rissling Wynn.

In an effort to lead by example, the Town of Canmore has already installed solar panels on the Civic Centre, the Waste Management Centre, Elevation Place and the Canmore Seniors Centre.

Over the next two years the Town plans to install as many solar panels as possible on five municipal buildings beginning with Elevation Place this year.

When all five projects are complete, 1,145 solar panels will produce nearly 431,000 kWh of energy, offsetting overall electrical needs by 20 per cent and providing a lifetime reduction of greenhouse gases of 8,834 tonnes.

To help residents who want to install solar panels on their own roofs, the Town also launched a solar incentive program in 2018 to help residents offset the cost of purchasing and installing solar energy. Eight residents took advantage of the program and received $1,250.

“It’s like a major appliance in your home,” said Rissling Wynn. “Most major appliances in your home don’t pay you back, but a solar installation does.”

To learn more about the incentive program, the town will be hosting an open house with the Biosphere Institute next Wednesday (Feb. 13). It will be held at Civic Centre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.


Paul Clarke

About the Author: Paul Clarke

Paul Clarke has spent the past four years working as a community news reporter in Jasper, Banff and Canmore.
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