Solar on the minds of coffee drinkers

There were some questions about solar panels at the coffee with the Mayor in July.

There were some questions about solar panels at the coffee with the Mayor in July. One of the questions centred around solar panel electrical vehicle charging stations.

Jay Armstrong, Cranbrook’s Energy Manager noted that it is possible, but it’s currently more cost-effective to use grid-power in B.C.

“Off-grid or weak-grid locations where adding or upgrading power lines and transformers would be cost prohibitive would increase solar viability,” Armstrong wrote in the report. “In addition, many utilities are moving to time-of-use pricing, in which peak hours of morning, mid-day, and dinner-time see rate surcharges – such pricing structures are not likely in the near term in B.C.”

He gave an example that those rates may be up to two to five times higher than B.C., and therefore significantly increase cost viability. In addition to solar generation, in some instances, excess vehicle battery capacity is even reversed to power the grid, so as to receive maximum time-of-use profit.

Armstrong also noted that electricity in Alberta is more expensive, and significantly more greenhouse-gas intensive than in BC, which may make a project around solar panels in the Public Works yard more viable.

“Evolutions of solar technology combined with decreasing costs may begin to increase project viability and outweigh complexity and maintenance concerns in the next few years,” he wrote. “Regardless, there are significant energy conservation opportunities throughout the city which have higher payback.”

He said that accomplishes more for each taxpayer dollar and follows energy management practices of reducing need first, and allows time for prices of early adopter technology such as solar to become more affordable.

He said the first phase of the Kimberley Sun-Mine should prove interesting and relevant, since it will be using top-of-the-line dual-axis tracking solar panels to maximize energy reception.