It was just last spring, on Earth Day as a matter of fact, that Manitoba Hydro announced its solar energy program.
This offered grants, loans and financial incentives for both residential and commercial customers to install solar systems. Not just for their own electricity needs though, as Hydro will buy back any surplus power generated.
So the timing was right for a solar power conference in Winnipeg.
Core Energy, a local company specializing in solar power, organized just that with their Energy Summit that took place at four locations around town earlier this month.
It kicked off at McNally Robinson on March 8 when John Perlin gave a speech and book signing of his latest work, Let It Shine – The 6000 year old story of solar energy.
Perlin was invited to Winnipeg by Core Energy to further their work with solar power. He currently works for NASA in the department of physics at the University of California and is considered a leading authority on solar energy. This is his fourth book and his third on solar power.
The following day saw two events, a seminar on the emerging solar market in Manitoba at Canad Inns Polo Park and the integration of solar technology in architecture and construction that took place at Architecture 49 on Buffalo Place.
Presentations were given by University of Manitoba engineering professor Dr. Eric Bibeau and Manitoba Hydro’s solar manager Jana Brunel.
The conference wrapped up the day afterwards at Bergmanns on Lombard with a talk on becoming a smart solar city by Dr. Andrea Kraj of Core Energy and John Perlin.
For those thinking of going solar, Hydro claims that each roof-top panel of 1.5 square metres can produce 250 watts of electricity, enough to power your kitchen lights.
When installed with a bi-directional meter it monitors your surplus power that Hydro will buy back from you.
But installation is not cheap and pay-back periods can be long. This could be changing as advances in photovoltaic systems are making them more efficient.
And this is a good thing for as I drive along Grant Avenue through River Heights I see one of the many “check your speed” signs that are supposed to indicate oncoming motorists of their actual speed. Like many others around town this sign is solar powered and like most of the others it hasn’t worked in years.
Hardly inspires confidence in solar power.
I don’t know the problem with these signs but if the City were to fix them all, it would be a good promotion for alternative energy. And maybe it’d reduce speeding along some of our streets too.