A recent Mission LED post mentions Aspen, Colorado’s inclusion among a growing number of American cities that now run on 100 percent renewable energy. Closer to home, Devon, Alberta has emerged as a green energy ambassador in a province that has long staked its fortunes in the bottom of many an oil well.
In September 2015, under the helm of Mayor Stephen Lindop, the town installed a 100-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system atop the roof of the Devon Community Centre, which will completely power the facility, making it Devon’s first net-zero building.
“We always have been an energy community. Now we understand the world that we’re living in and the opportunity that exists,” Lindop said. “It’s saving us money from day one.” The community centre is hopefully the first of many solar projects for the town, with Lindop planning to extend the initiative to fourteen other town buildings while also creating new homeowner incentive programs for residential solar systems.
“At the heart of every community is a gathering place where people connect, plan and celebrate,” says Lindop. “So transforming Devon’s Community Centre into the first net-zero building in our town with this 100 kilowatts DC system is both symbolic and a sign of things to come.”
Devon’s first net-zero building will have a system is composed of 393 solar panels, which will offset approximately 73 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) — equivalent to 14 cars’ worth of GHGs per year. The solar array is expected to last at least 50 years with minimal system degradation per year (0.5%). Using $117,000 in funding from the New Infrastructure Reserve to get the project up and running, the Town of Devon is part of a unique solar panel leasing program through ENMAX that will see the remaining costs spread out over a 15-year lease period, at the end of which, Devon will own the solar array.
Long considered an oil and gas town, Devon is embracing a new, greener approach to meeting energy needs at a time when Alberta continues to grapple with an economic downturn due in large part to persistently low oil prices. In addition to the Community Centre solar project, the town has an ambitious solar energy park project in the works that will potentially transform an old Imperial Gas plant site. Plans for the park also include solar-powered greenhouses, which will grow food, as well as algae and other microbes for hydrocarbon remediation.
“We are really excited about this new, ambitious project,” says Tony Kulbisky, Chief Administrative Office for the Town of Devon. We are meeting regularly with private landowners, industry experts and higher orders of government, who are all very supportive.” Despite government and community support, recent updates on the project indicate there have been issues with the Alberta Energy Regulator, as well as delays while Imperial Oil remediates potentially contaminated land to a usable state. Despite the snags, the Town of Devon is still deeply committed to changes that will mark a transition towards energy “enlightenment.”
“The future is green — there’s no doubt about that. We want to be part of that,” says Lindop and we believe Devon’s first net zero building will be the first of many. Here’s to a brighter and greener future!
About The Author
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor my objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in. CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.
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