One of GIRO’s main goals is to reduce our carbon footprint. With the large south facing roofline at the depot it was clear that we were an ideal candidate for solar panels. Unlike gas and coal, solar power is a renewable, clean, sustainable energy. Solar power does not pollute our air or contribute to global warming.
Before the solar panel installation could be completed the roof on the old building needed to be replaced. This project was completed in 2017 with the help of the RDN who supported the project through a $25,000 grant.
The GIRO roof can hold an array of three rows of nineteen panels (fifty-seven in total). Cost for design layout, purchase and installation totalled $32,000. We were unsuccessful in receiving funding for this project through our local district (Regional District of Nanaimo), but decided to proceed regardless, drawing on savings set aside for capital improvements.
Each panel can generate up to 250 watts (when the sun’s out), for a total of 15kw for the full array, which is enough to run 350 four-foot fluorescent tubes. In the summer when we are generating more than we use, the excess electricity goes to the grid so there is no battery storage required. In the week since we went live, we have generated 450 kilowatt hours, despite two rainy days. This saved $60 in Hydro costs. We estimate overall, this will cut our annual hydro bill in half with a payback of 10-15 years, depending on how much hydro rates increase.
The array of panels will produce clean energy for thirty years and is the equivalent carbon offset of planting 325 trees a year!
Thank you to Empower Gabriola (Steve Earle) for the concept, DN Solar (Dave Neads) for the design work, Phillip Claxton for the installation, and GIRO Board President Barry Loescher for facilitating the project.
Come and visit us on Wednesdays and Saturdays to see this latest project and learn more about the other services and initiatives GIRO is supporting.
Thank you to everybody for the continued support of this important community resource centre.