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  • Vermilion Voice

‘Big Green Ideas’

Approximately 50 people gathered for the first Big Green Ideas seminar on renewable energy; hosted by Lakeland College Vermilion on March 20. Dean of Environmental Sciences Mal Dissanayke, Renewable Energy & Conservation Program Head & Instructor Robert Baron, and Chair of Environmental Sciences James Woodhouse coordinated the event to build exposure and awareness of renewable energy in Alberta. Main topics included how businesses are changing or expanding and how the energy industry is incorporating decentralized energy into their production/energy systems. The casual, public event drew attention from both municipal and farm guests, and five panel members addressed questions and shared their different opinions. “We wanted to provide an opportunity to introduce broader topics and allow for myth busting and debunking or confirming people’s thoughts or perceptions. We are very thankful to everyone for attending,” said James Woodhouse, Chair of Environmental Sciences. Keynote speaker and EQUS’ CEO, Patricia Bourne explained micro generation types including hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and fuel cells. With the most detailed examples coming from her personal and company’s solar installations, she said that people see a benefit in renewable energy. “According to the Alberta Electric System Operator, in 2018, 3,000 sites were producing more than 40,000 kilowatts of electricity,” said Bourne of recent off-grid locations. She also explained savings and how these systems could function for municipalities. ENMAX Director of Operations, Jason Atkinson, went on to describe their use of Solar PV. “It’s amazing how it has evolved. We are excited about large upcoming projects including the city of Airdrie, and the West Edmonton Mall receiving a 12.1 megawatt system. Having that kind of installation in a residential area, there will be impacts,” said Atkinson. Questions from the audience included what the challenges would be, how photovoltaics stand up to hail, and how people should manage expectations for prospective bills. EQUS Chairman, Glen Fox, congratulated Lakeland College on their renewable energy products, and said, “By supporting renewable energy, we can participate in shaping our own future.”

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