Nanaimo Foodshare demonstrates solar power sustainability

NANAIMO – Demonstration system gathers data on solar operating costs and offsets expensive B.C. Hydro power.

Workers install a solar panel at Nanaimo Foodshare location on Pine Street.

Nanaimo Foodshare Network has plugged in to a solar energy system to promote sustainable power.

The organization, which promotes local sustainable food production systems, also uses its building at 271 Pine St. to demonstrate and promote energy conservation technologies.

In the late 1990s the building was retrofitted for energy efficiency. Viewing areas were included in the walls with tags attached to various insulation components so visitors can see the structure and composition of insulation systems.

“It’s already got a really good building envelop to it, so it’s an energy-efficient building,” said Paul Manly, Nanaimo Foodshare Network employability skills coordinator. “That’s what you want to do before you install something like solar where you’re generating energy.”

The building is now deriving part of its daily electrical consumption from its own roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panel array that has been operating since late February.

Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, which is fed into a building’s electrical supply to offset electricity costs.

The eight solar panels, arranged in two separate arrays on the building’s roof, are capable of producing a maximum of 2.2 kilowatts of electricity.

The demonstration system is a joint partnership between the foodshare network, Nanaimo-based solar energy promoter Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island, Osprey Electric, which installed the system free of charge, SRM Projects and Mid Island Co-Op which donated $8,500 toward the $9,500 cost of the system. Co-op is evaluating the system’s performance for possible use in its gas bars.

Scot Merriam, of SRM Projects, who engineered the foodshare system, said it will produce sufficient power to offset B.C. Hydro Step 2 electricity costs. He said solar prices are falling as B.C. Hydro rates continue to rise.

“When you offset the expensive power that’s when your solar system makes a lot of sense,” Merriam said.

The system’s real-time performance and other information can be viewed online at www.nanaimofoodshare.ca/solar.

“Eventually what we’ll have on the website is hydro bills from previous years and people will be able to compare them to hydro bills in the years after we had the solar panels installed and be able to see what the difference is,” Manly said.

The system operates in the background and requires no attention from the staff.

“It’s pretty close to being zero maintenance … and it really fits in with Foodshare’s values around sustainability,” said Jen Cody, Nanaimo Foodshare Network executive director.

Just Posted

City councillor wants policy on recording meetings

City of Nanaimo Coun. Bill Yoachim addressed criticism on the subject

Finalists announced for Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards

The awards take place Jan. 25 at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort in Victoria

Further work postponed on middle Colliery Dam

New study suggests extreme flood flows might be less likely than previously estimated

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

City of Nanaimo’s garbage collection rates could change again

City staff advises council about a complication with Phase 2 implementation

Car crash blocks off Meredith Road

Emergency crews responded after a car and a sport-utility vehicle collided just before 1 p.m. Monday

Did you get Hitched in Courtenay on Sunday?

The first annual wedding show saw big crowds and included two fashion shows

Premier offers condolences to family of boy, 15, killed in Vancouver crossfire

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Island passengers say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

North Island wedding fair coming to Courtenay on Sunday

Head to the Florence Filberg Centre for the first annual Hitched Wedding and Events Affair brought to you by Black Press

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag for Canada at 2018 Olympics

The pair earned a gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games

Most Read