The Rossland Energy Task Force has undertaken a project to determine whether or not solar energy is viable in Rossland.
“In order to determine that, without any ambiguity, we need to collect solar data, which is something we don’t really have in Rossland,” says Kelly St. John, a member of the Energy Task Force. “We get data that’s sort of less granular and more interpolated across the province, but that doesn’t help us here; we have micro-climates and things like that.”
To collect the necessary data, the task force has purchased equipment that will be installed at the public works building.
“It’s basically a pyranometer that reads the solar radiation data, on a very rapid basis, and the sensor logs [the data] to the data logger, which will be accessible to the public if they want to look at the data,” says St. John.
Ideally, St. John says that they will end up with more than one year of data to work with. “The longer we have data, the more accurate our predictions will be.”
The project is being paid for using some of the City of Rossland’s Climate Action Revenue Incentive Program (CARIP) funds, and due to budget constraints, the task force was only able to install a sensor in one location.
Limited funds also meant the Energy Task Force had to compromise on the type of sensor it purchased.
“But we believe what we have will do the job. We were looking for a heated sensor so that it would melt the snow and ice off it, so that we can see over the winter, even when there’s snow cover, how much sun we’re getting. Unfortunately those heated sensors can be very, very expensive.”
Because the task force wasn’t able to get the heated sensor, its winter projections will most likely be low, but St. John says that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “That way we know that when we use these numbers — two, three, four years from now — it’ll be conservative numbers.”
Although he’s just one member of a larger task force, St. John brings invaluable experience to the project. He co-owned and operated a solar installation company in Ontario. “In that line of work, I had to do a lot of this kind of work, where we had to do a lot of solar analysis and estimating work.”
The data collected during this project will be the basis for the city’s future decision making regarding solar energy, and will also be available to the public so that home owners can make informed decisions regarding solar energy.
“I do believe that there’s a decent solar potential in Rossland; however, you need to quantify that with actual data,” says St. John.