College of the Rockies’ New Solar Project Underway

College of the Rockies has begun work on a new solar project at the Cranbrook main campus’ Kootenay Centre building. Kootenay Centre is the main campus’ biggest consumer of electricity and has the best physical space for the solar panels with less shadowing than other campus buildings.

The solar photovoltaic panels installed on the building’s roof will allow the College to produce electricity year-round which they will then sell back to BC Hydro.

“As a facility, we want to be leaders in alternative energies and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and hydroelectricity,” says College Facilities Manager, Allan Knibbs.  “There are a few other installs in the province but our area has the biggest potential for solar due to the number of sunny days we experience.”

The solar technology, which is expected to be complete by mid-November, will produce 109,000 kilowatt-hours per year of electricity - enough electricity to operate 14 houses for a year - while reducing the College’s greenhouse gas emissions by 12,000 kilograms of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent).  It also provides a teaching tool for College of the Rockies students both during construction and once the system is up and running.

“We are able to provide our students with the opportunity to learn and see first-hand how alternative energies work in the construction phase and, once the system is functional, to be able to see how it is performing through our real-time monitoring system,” adds Knibbs.

The latest solar project comes on the heels of the installation of two types of solar technology at the College’s residence building, providing a renewable energy source for heating the building.  A solar wall was also mounted at the Cranbrook campus’ Pinnacle Hall building which helps to draw heat into the building, improving air quality and reducing heating and operating costs. Knibbs hopes to be able to expand the program to the Cranbrook campus’ Summit Hall building as well as to some of the regional campuses.

“The Ministry of Advanced Education has been supportive of our solar initiatives through funding programs and I hope we are able to continue to expand our use of solar technologies throughout our regional campuses as well as here in Cranbrook,” Knibbs concludes.

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