SSREC Logo with Blue Star Shapes
SSREC Logo with Blue Star Shapes
16 02, 2022

Solar is booming all over. Where is BC?

By |2022-03-10T16:00:01-08:00February 16th, 2022|Categories: Solar News|

It looks like the German government is (finally) getting serious about decarbonizating their energy by massively investing equally in wind and solar energy and many other countries are doing likewise. Germany, which receives between 15 and 35% less sunshine than BC, already has 60,000 MW of solar PV. BC has a piddly 50 MW! Between now and 2030 – the period that the IPCC identified as absolutely critical (‘Code Red’ in their words) in getting a handle on climate change – Germany will install 15,500 MW of solar every year. Adjusted for population, BC would be installing 950 MW of solar annually. This may sound like a lot, and let’s face it, it is, but we missed the ferry on decarbonization a long time ago. Now have to scramble to switch to non carbon-emitting energies like solar, wind and geothermal at 5-7% a year to meet BC’s climate commitments. We are embarrassing laggards when it comes to cleaning up our energy arena, where almost 80% of the energy consumed still comes from burning fossil fuels – with about half going to transportation and another large proportion to heating water and buildings.  To stop burning stuff, we need to electrify. Installing those 950 MW solar on rooftops, box stores, parking lots, under transmission lines, on reservoirs (floatovoltacis), farms (agrivoltaics) and brown fields is highly feasible and would cost less than $2 billion a year. For every MW installed, BC would save over 1140 metric tonnes of CO2e over burning fossil fuels (methane, propane, gasoline, diesel) – that would go a rather long way to the urgently needed decarbonization of the BC energy system. It would also create about 15 local jobs for each MW.

The time to sit on the fence expired a couple of decades ago. We must act now, and it looks the little people have to lead the way while the politicians discuss transition fuels, or the rainbow colours of hydrogen and other pies in the sky. We have the tools, and the technology. Now we must find the will and money to handle the crisis. What are we waiting for?

Tom Mommsen & Risa Smith, SSREC

10 03, 2019

Southern Gulf Islands: A Solar Powerhouse!

By |2022-03-10T15:57:09-08:00March 10th, 2019|Categories: Solar News|

Encouraged by earlier experiences with solar installations and by the obvious interest of fellow islanders, a few solar enthusiasts from the southern Gulf islands created a new cooperative – the Salish Sea Renewable Energy Cooperative, SSREC (pronounced Shrek!). We set out by presenting talks about solar energy and about our coop on five islands, expressing urgency to act on climate change mitigation and our hopes to organize a bulk-purchase of solar equipment and installation for the islands. We were amazed by the attendance – over 300 islanders came out to our presentations – and by the enthusiasm of the audiences for all things solar.

In record time, and after fielding hundreds of questions and doing almost a hundred solar assessments, this enthusiasm translated into a bulk purchase, the scale of which exceeded our wildest dreams. As of today, almost forty new residential solar projects have been installed on Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Saturna and Saltspring, totalling over 800 panels with a capacity exceeding 250 kW. On a community level, this is the second largest installation in BC (after the 500 kW installation in Hudson’s Hope) – preventing the release of almost 200 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and saving the owners a lot of money on their electricity bills for the next 35 years or more.

Considering the existing community installations around the Southern Gulf Islands (Primary School and Recycling Centre on Pender, High School on Saltspring, Community Centre on Mayne, etc.), it is pretty obvious that the Southern Gulf Islands are turning into a solar powerhouse. Even though our islands are not generally considered an ideal area for solar in BC, we do receive at least 20% more solar radiation than acknowledged solar powers like Germany or France!

Net Metering

All new solar installations on the islands are grid-tied and administered through BC Hydro’s Net Metering programme. Net metering – as done by BC Hydro – meters the flow of electricity from the client into the grid (solar production) and from the grid (consumption over and above the solar production) for a year. This means that during the summer months, when solar production usually exceeds domestic consumption, credit builds up in BC Hydro’s accounts (in kWh). These excess kWh are then used up during the winter months when solar production is low and domestic demands tend to […]

23 05, 2018

Solar Myths

By |2022-05-25T15:35:14-07:00May 23rd, 2018|Categories: Articles, Solar Myths, Solar News|

The science around solar is crystal clear. Yet some myths persist.

by Tom Mommsen, Focus on Victoria, April 28, 2021

EVEN THOUGH ENERGY MATTERS rate high in the public’s attention, it is discouraging how many myths are being repeated by the media, by bloggers and in general discussions about solar power, especially about photovoltaics (PV). Yes, we are talking about those “unsightly” blue or black panels that are increasingly found on houses and in fields of dreamers, environmentalists and other-ists who clearly deserve being made fun of for their unaesthetic choices! However, do we really want to immediately dismiss multitudes of Africans, Americans, Asians, Chileans, Europeans, First Nations, Ikea, Nova Scotians and many, many others, simply because they embrace a technology that is anathema to British Columbia’s government and BC Hydro? A silent and long-lived technology that provides energy security, is environmentally benign and, heaven forbid, one of the least expensive means to generate clean electricity for the future? How silly.

In the following, we will debunk ten myths about solar power and inject some science and real numbers into the discussion. It is definitely a discussion whose time has come. Never mind that the energy input is absolutely free for another couple of billion years or so and delivered, without charge, directly to your roof. Never worry about price increases, spills along the supply-chain, world-class emergency measures for clean-up, whale populations or disruption of the energy flow. Every time solar spills are reported, people just take off for the park or reach for the beach towel with their only worries whether they have brought enough sunscreen and a two-meter (79 inches) measuring tape for social distancing.

The trouble with myths is not that they are so difficult to rebuke—the science around solar is crystal clear, the economics unclouded and logic should prevail. Alas, such myths are so pervasive and wrong on so many levels, it’s tough to know where to start. Still, it’s a fun game to debunk solar myths, so let’s start with some general ones, using examples from British Columbia.

Myth #1. BC doesn’t get enough sun. PV should be left to sunny places like California or Abu Dhabi. Well, actually, BC receives plenty of sunshine, somewhere between 1500 and 2250 hours per year, considerably more than solar powerhouses like Germany, France or the UK that receive about the same amount of sunshine as parts of Alaska. Need we say […]

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