Solar panels will focus the sun’s energy to heat water and improve energy efficiency at schools, post-secondary institutions and hospitals across B.C. thanks to capital funding from the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement (PSECA), according to a press release by the Government of British Columbia.
By Craig Pearson
“In 2010, B.C. will have the first carbon-neutral public sector in North America where every student will enter a carbon-neutral school and every patient will be cared for in a carbon-neutral hospital,” said John Yap, Minister of State for Climate Action. “At the same time, these projects are helping to grow B.C.’s emerging solar technology market and create new jobs for British Columbians.”
Twenty-four schools, nine colleges and universities, and five hospitals share in $2.8 million from PSECA and its partners, Terasen Gas, SolarBC and Natural Resources Canada to install solar panels to reduce natural gas or electricity consumption.
“These projects are incredible learning opportunities for students that will feed B.C.’s growing culture of conservation,” said Education Minister George Abbott. “Students get to witness the shift to energy efficiency, learn about the solar thermal systems, and eventually finish school accepting solar energy as a norm rather than the rarely-used energy source it is today.”
The main focus is on education and supporting growth in the solar technology sector. Emissions reductions and energy savings are added benefits, particularly at post-secondary institutions and hospitals, where laundering and cleaning happens around the clock.
“Our government is proud to support community projects through ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat and especially to show youth how renewable energy can be part of their everyday lives,” said Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources. “This project is a shining example of our commitment to ensuring that renewable energy will form an increasingly important part of our future energy mix.”
“We are pleased to work with our partners to make solar hot water an accessible, affordable and practical energy solution,” said Nitya Harris, executive director of SolarBC. “This will help us realize our vision of a viable solar market with knowledgeable consumers and a network of skilled solar energy professionals throughout B.C.”
BC Hydro was the first PSECA partner and continues to be a key partner in the program. Terasen Gas joined the partnership earlier this year, enabling even greater alternate energy investments, according to the government.
“We increasingly layer integrated energy solutions such as solar thermal systems over a base of natural gas,” said Doug Stout, Vice President of Energy Solutions and External Solutions, Terasen Gas and FortisBC. “By partnering with PSECA to fund projects we not only help meet the energy needs of public sector agencies today and tomorrow, but we also help address the Province’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.”
In 2008, B.C. committed $75 million to the PSECA over three years to help public sector organizations reduce GHG emissions, energy consumption and operating costs, and help ensure all public buildings are carbon neutral for 2010. The government says funding to date has achieved annual energy cost savings of close to $7.4 million, GHG reductions of over 18,700 tonnes and conservation of 38.6 GWh of electricity.
For more information on the Public Sector Energy Conservation Agreement, visit www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/mitigation/pseca.html.