Anyone driving past the Bowen Island Community School (BICS) recently may have noticed that an array of solar panels has been installed on the school’s roof. In total, thirty-two solar panels, estimated to produce about 8 kilowatts of power, have been installed. This panel array is similar in size to one that would be installed to power an average Bowen Island home. The installation will provide an excellent opportunity for students at BICS, as well as members of the Bowen Island community, to learn about renewable energy and electricity use. An accompanying software program will allow students to take daily readings from a centrally located computer monitor to see how much power is being produced by their panels at any given time, and then determine greenhouse gas emissions and energy savings. Learnings can be tied to a broad range of curricula, addressing science, technology, math, economics, biology, ecological literacy and sustainable communities, for example.
There are only five other schools in the Vancouver area (including neighboring Rockridge Secondary School) and just one other elementary school (Admiral Seymour Elementary) that have installed solar panels. Once installed, the system will belong to BICS and the energy produced will offset a small portion of the school’s energy use. Other BC schools that have installed solar panels have anecdotally reported about a 3-5% reduction in energy costs.
The BICS installation is part of a new program called Solar Now, which aims to raise awareness about the viability of renewable energy by putting solar panels on prominent public infrastructure in and around Vancouver. Clean Energy Canada, an initiative of the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, is leading the project from its Bowen Island office. The North Growth Foundation, under the direction of long-time Bowen Island homeowner Rudy North, launched the project with a generous matching challenge grant. The Bowen Island Community Foundation jumped on board with the first matching contribution of $12,500 and the Knick Knack Nook has contributed $6,500 from their environmental fund. The Great Climate Race, which is held annually in Vancouver in October, is another partner, as is the Community Energy Association. Altogether, these generous partners are contributing a total of $44,000 to make this project possible.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer our students the chance to learn about and experience solar power first-hand — along with parents and other members of the school community. Teaching the next generation about renewable energy is an important and worthwhile investment in a cleaner, more sustainable future for us all.”
— Scott Slater, Principal, Bowen Island Community School
“A lot of us have to see something to believe it — and the same goes for renewable energy. Our hope is that, as more people see solar panels close up, the more familiar they’ll become with how renewable power works and how it could benefit them. Solar Now is about showcasing how the clean energy solutions we have available today can help solve the energy and climate challenges we will face tomorrow.”
— Merran Smith, Director, Clean Energy Canada
“Solar Now is leading by example with practical ideas to tackle climate change. It has become evident that we can be independent of fossil fuels by 2050, by transitioning to solar, wind, smart grids and
new storage technologies. The solar panel installation at BICS demonstrates that we have the technology, and encourages
people to adopt it.”
— Rudy North, Philanthropist, North Growth Foundation
“Solar power keeps getting more affordable, and once you install the technology, the fuel — the sun’s rays — is free. As homeowners and businesses invest in renewable energy, they start to pay more attention to how much electricity they use and produce — this level of engagement in the energy cycle often leads to ‘greater energy literacy’ and less energy being wasted in the long-run. So renewable energy is a sustainable and cost-effective way to meet our electricity needs, and it can help us combat climate change.”
— Bill Swan, Project Director, Solar Now
For more information on Solar Now, please contact:
Communications Director, Clean Energy Canada
Clean Energy Canada, a climate and energy think-tank based at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue, is partnering with Solar Now through communications, administrative and fundraising support. To learn more about Clean Energy Canada, visit cleanenergycanada.org.