Solar Power in Regina

On Saturday, I was pleased to be a part of the Science Centre’s Ignite Expo:

Exhibitors

Regina Games Forge – A local group of tabletop game designers who meet and host playtests regularly. They will have several prototypes of various tabletop games from local designers available to play and demo throughout the day.
Regina Scale Modelers – Creating intricate scale models of agricultural machinery
SLUG – Saskatchewan Lego Users Group are bringing various Lego creations and some brick-art by Tim Brix.
Queen City Cosplayers – showcasing their costumes as well as some home made accessories and props.
John Klein – Demonstrating his home solar panel array, and how to set one up.
Crashbang labs – Various projects built by lab members. Mostly electronic, laser cut and 3d printed parts.
Ignite CTV John Klein presenter
Sondors on CTV Regina news
Regina Rolling Robot Tours –Ride a Segway and learn more about balance and these cool rides.
Mighty Chameleon Brothers – A new, locally-created indie video game. It has been fashioned after classic arcade games of the 80’s & 90’s. Play a demo of the game with an authentic arcade joystick!
Miller High School – Students will be bringing along some of their STEM projects.
Rick Martens – 3D Printed props and a video presentation about Maker Spaces.
Talking Dog Studios – The Grid Virtual Reality Arcade game with a headset so visitors can play this new game
ZMZ Smithing – Live blacksmithing with a coal forge. Zach will show off his traditional smithing skills and make small pieces live in front of you!

Advertisements

#StadiumII Lackluster Design Produces No Energy

It’s hard to look at another new stadium, and not feel some shame about the new Mosaic Stadium with its 4 drinking fountains. Let me guess, the urinals in Regina’s use water too?

How could our elected officials permit construction of a stadium in this decade and not have it generate a single kilowatt of electricity, or use a drop of grey water? It was an opportunity squandered by people who don’t care that we’re a people living well beyond our world’s means.

The good news? We have a municipal recycling service, and it appears to be used to some degree at the new stadium.

SaskPower Misinforming The Public About Solar Power

In honour of the solar eclipse on Monday, SaskPower shared what it’s been saying about solar power for many years. The problem with reusing years-old information about technology, is that sometimes you get things wrong due to advances in the technology. There should not be so many factual errors in SaskPower’s communications with the public. It’s a sore point for me, because it’s so critical that people understand the capabilities (and true limitations) of renewable energy technologies. Only by changing how we power our electrical grid and daily lives, can we quickly leave fossil fuels in the past to reduce damaging climate changes, and health problems from emissions.

I’m one of those 400 #solar energy providers to the SaskPower grid. It’s known as Net Metering, because the net electricity used, at the end of a year is billed to me, but any generated above equality is kept in SaskPower’s favour.

Photons, not IR/heat is collected from light, & is converted into electrons (electricity). Heat causes additional resistance / lower output. Telling people otherwise could convince them that seasonally cold Regina isn’t a great place for solar, when it’s actually a top location in the world!

As you can see from my examples, SaskPower has some explaining to do, about the [mis]information they’re sharing on their Twitter feed. I worry what else they’re telling people, that’s as inaccurate.

ADDED: Sent this to SaskPower. I’ll let you know what they do to correct the record.

“SaskPower shared some inaccurate information on its series of tweets during the solar eclipse. Will SaskPower correct the record, and tweet correct information about solar power from this point forward?
https://johnkleinregina.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/saskpower-misinforming-the-public-about-solar-power/

Please let me know when SaskPower issues corrections, and I’ll update my article.

Thank-you,
John Klein”

“Thank you, your inquiry has been submitted.

A SaskPower representative will respond to your inquiry shortly.”

UPDATE: They replied yesterday:

Thank you for your email. Solar is an important part of a cleaner energy
future for Saskatchewan. We want customers to understand our plans for
solar, and as you note in your blog, the limitations of the technology, as
well. To ensure reliability for customers, intermittent generation sources
like wind and solar require back up baseload power that’s available 24/7.
We also aim to balance a mix of sources that offer reliability,
cost-effectiveness and environmental sustainability. We are keenly paying
attention to the development of utility-scale battery storage technology as
you mention and will look forward to testing it once the technology
continues to evolve.

Okay, but what about correcting the mistakes in the information you shared with the public? e.g. equating heat with electricity production in PV cells. That’s not how it works.

Why are you not testing battery storage technology now?

Lumsden Leaps Ahead

The Town of Lumsden’s RiverPark Centre has added a 10kW solar array! They’re among the first Saskatchewan municipalities to make use of our world-class solar resource.

In the first week they’ve produced as much electricity as my array did in its best month ever. A reminder that my array produces more solar electricity for the SaskPower grid, than the entirety of municipal, provincial, and federal government buildings in the City of Regina. Lumsden is now making more solar power than the City of Winnipeg, also.

You can see their stats online!

My array’s stats can be viewed online also.

The trees are nice for shading the picnic benches, but in Winter seasonal months, they’ll provide too much shade to the solar panels on the large south facing roof. It’s a consideration that doesn’t make a system uneconomic, but it’s something I spot. We have to work with the roofs, and sometimes the trees we’re given. My array is on a roof at a less than ideal 20 degree angle (it should be much more steep for Regina’s latitude).

Leading The Way in Saskatchewan on Renewable Energy

May 26, 2017

Dear Editor,

In response to your May 24th article “Regina councillors return from Vancouver”, about Regina Councillors seeking to make our city use more renewable energy, I’d like to point out that Regina presently produces no solar electricity on public buildings. This is frankly outrageous since Regina’s solar resource is the best in Canada among major cities. The Federal, Provincial, & Municipal governments, and even the University of Regina all produce 0 Megawatt hours (MWh) of solar electricity for the SaskPower grid in Saskatchewan. That’s 4.6 MWh less than I’ve personally produced with my solar panels, for SaskPower. If the City would spend only $20,000, they could surpass my contribution within a year.

Saskpower is on track to miss their “50% renewable electricity by 2030” target mentioned in the article. 71 MW more fossil fuel electricity is planned to go online than renewable electricity in the next 4 years in Saskatchewan. That leaves a significant shortfall to hit 50%, with no plan as of yet being delivered to explain how the Crown Corporation intends to make it up.

I’m eager to see if City Council is willing to put its money where its mouth is, and stop making me look so good by comparison.

John Klein
Regina, SK

Saskatoon City Planner on Environment etc.

Here are the key quotes, as I see them, which also directly apply to Regina and its thinking.

It can be awkward, going from a small city to a big city. And by the time we get done with the 30-year plans, we’re going to be a big city. We’re going to be half a million people. So all of the things we’ve done for the last 100 years has all been manageable in a small city way, like our transit system, like the way we plan neighbourhoods, like how we design our road system. And how we relate to the region had all been pretty much stable for the last 60 years or so.

Those things are all changing and we can’t ignore it. They’re just coming at us. We will have to deal with it. …

Transit — that’s another one. It’s a big one. We have a small city transit system. It has to evolve or it’s just going to fail. It’s starting to fail already. When you have buses congested in traffic, there’s no way anyone can keep a schedule. If you can’t keep a schedule, nobody’s going to use it. Four per cent of the population. It might go down from there. Who knows? But why would you use transit?

Under the radar for a while, but everything eventually percolates to the top: Homelessness. Homeless counts are going up. They’re not going down. How that’s being addressed is kind of behind the scenes here.

…Although roads will continue to be built, we can’t rely on the automobile as much as we are — 1.1 drivers per car is our average. So that’s one person in a car driving all over the place.

…You see a lot of cars driving in and out, so we’re using our cars an awful lot. Maybe we’ve made it too convenient to do that and I think that’s true because we’ve been able to, but you can’t continue that.

I think environmentally, we need to pull up our socks a little bit. We’re lagging behind in some respects. We just brought in recycling in the last five years. So we’re not exactly leading in any great way.

…We have an awful lot of sunshine here and I don’t know why solar hasn’t taken off. While not being too unkind to our Saskatoon Light & Power folks — they do a wonderful job — but that should be an energy company. Maybe it’s time to cut the tie with SaskPower and maybe generate, create energy and sell it.

Wind and Solar To Grow in Saskatchewan

More details are set to be released by SaskPower on Monday, but it will take quite the investment. Currently, only a quarter of the province’s energy is drawn from renewables, mostly wind and hydro. Geothermal isn’t used at all, nor are there any large-scale solar operations.

Only about 400 homes and businesses in Saskatchewan use solar as a back-up energy source. One of those users is John Klein in Regina, who had panels installed in April. In the summer they produced “as much power as the home was using,” though that’s dwindled as the sun sinks lower and days shorten.

The panels were quite the investment — around $8,000 after a rebate — but Klein is confident they will have paid for themselves in a decade or so.

Renewable energy advocates have long pointed to Saskatchewan as the ideal place for wind and solar power — we’re sunny, we’re windy, and we have a whole lot of space. With a similar climate, North Dakota has managed to up its wind generation to 17.5 per cent of all in-state generated electricity.

We could build an industry in Saskatchewan that has a future after oil.

Alberta’s bound to be more ambitious than our Sask Party government when it comes to reducing air pollution.

Here are the stats for my solar array in Regina. As you can see, the lower angle of the Sun in November clips neighbours’ trees a fair bit, and a power pole shadow even gets in the way a little bit.

It would be useful if SaskPower and the Prov’ Gov’t put as much public consultation into this plan as they did for the UDP. There were people during the UDP calling for a Renewable Energy consultation that “could be just as biased” toward renwables, as the UDP was toward nuclear power. We’re going to need the province’s best minds working on this solution to the government’s objective of 50% in 15 years, and also the input of people who don’t understand the problem very well so they can learn more about it and come to understand the solutions.