In the month of July 2018, Dandelion Renewables installed community solar systems near Nelson, British Columbia.
We built three solar PV systems on community buildings in Balfour, BC, near Nelson, with a combined solar capacity of 67KW DC. These three projects complement Nelson Hydro’s own 60KW DC community solar garden project that was built to showcase the potential for solar virtual net-metering in 2017.
Three community-owned buildings include Balfour Community Hall, Balfour Senior’s Center, and Balfour Golf Club. To contain the power costs, the three buildings have undergone detailed energy assessments and retrofits beginning in 2014. Today in all three buildings the temperature is maintained by efficient air-source heat pumps.
Solar panels on the Balfour Golf Course.
The ultimate goal of solar is to cover the power consumption of the building. For example, the power that is used on a hot summer day when air-source pumps are cooling down the buildings. The summer operation of the golf course and the building electric loads fits well with solar production. As solar power generation is an intermittent resource and does not exactly follow the load profile, the excess solar energy will be exported to the Nelson Hydro grid for a credit.
By generating their own electricity and selling the excess solar energy back to the Nelson Hydro grid, the community buildings will offset their power bill costs and in the long run, will reduce their operating costs. Current electricity rates and pricing structure in the area around Nelson create a compelling solar business case for the distributed solar generation.
Another benefit of residential and commercial-scale solar systems is that they are installed close to where the energy is consumed, thus they rely less on the distribution system.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay successfully managed to secure funding from the Columbia Trust Basin and the Federal Tax Community Works Fund, which made these three community solar systems near Nelson possible.