A Glimmer of Sustainable Light, and Power

Local newspapers reported encouraging news that the Town of Innisfil has been considering some renewable energy options. A 10 kW ground-mounted solar electric project is planned adjacent to the old Town Hall. The installation will cost $100,000 and would be funded from Innisfil Hydro dividends. It would generate about $9,000 in revenue per year along with electricity.

The interesting news is that few municipal buildings are considered able to bear the weight load of a solar panel installation. Town staff also mentioned wind shear and vibration as concerns with roof-mounted solar installations. Although the solar panels are rated for a 20 year life span, some apprehension was expressed that the actual service life could be much shorter. Perhaps some solar installers would like to comment here about their experiences and opinions on these issues.

It turns out that the Innisfil Recreation Complex does not have a weight-bearing roof. A solar installation there was estimated to cost $5 million dollars and that option was deferred. It’s not clear how much of that cost may be related to structural changes to the building.

Future articles in this blog will be reviewing some existing sustainable technologies and others being developed. I’m glad that staff and council have ventured into this solar experiment because it highlights the need for a systematic review of available technologies and a targeted plan of action. For instance, when Wal-Mart set out to cut consumption, it set a target of 30% greater efficiency for new stores and 20% better for existing ones.

Beyond municipal real estate, how can the Town also support and encourage adoption of these technologies by private builders? How can residents and commercial landlords be encouraged to retrofit existing buildings?

Students at Nantyr Shores are reportedly fund-raising for a solar installation at their school following the example of students at Bear Creek in Barrie. Our young people should be commended for their foresight and initiative. Wouldn’t it be great if the town, businesses and residents were all motivated by a common goal and working together from a comprehensive plan?