Ed Wilson, a BCSEA Okanagan Chapter member, and local sustainable energy champion recently attended the opening of the new community-owned solar project at the Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna, BC.  Ed’s report  follows.  

“SolShare, in an over-abbreviated summary, is a cooperative of investors striving to make solar energy more accessible. (see their press release here ) They installed a 50 kW system at the winery, opening the investment phase on May 5, 2022, with a public opportunity to own a piece of the solar energy pie for as little as $1000.”

Rob Baxter from SolShare described the event briefly, “Thirty-one people from the Okanagan and other parts of BC came together to purchase shares in a local community solar project in Kelowna.  Together, they raised $120,000 that was needed for this project and there was more interest than could be signed on at this time.  This is SolShare’s third project and there are others in the planning stage to help accelerate the growth of community-owned renewable energy.”

Ed Wilson agreed that the demand for sustainable energy exceeds the availability of such concepts and projects. Some of the limitations for project sizing seems to be coming from the service providers themselves. For instance, This project was capped at 50kW due to BCHydro’s current limits. Ed explains, “the 50 kW maximum applies to all grid connected independent power generating systems. This is More than enough for single-family residential buildings, but  not enough for multi-family, or larger commercial and industrial buildings.”

Ed saw the interest and local demand for projects like this one at the Tantalus event, and can see how there is room for up to 200 kW on the roof of this facility alone.

Community-owned solar was a big hit for this Okanagan project and we will be looking for more like it in the near future. For now, this model stimulated Ed to think about how community investments like this could help serve the projected need for a power production increase by 2-3 times to replace hydrocarbon fuels. “They should set the capacity of owner PV systems to about the annual power consumption of the facility. This is what is done for residential PV systems.”

Ed sends his full marks for Tantalus’s sustainable winery and new passive solar facility. Check them out!