FortWhyte Alive Opens the Largest Solar Panel Installation in Manitoba



FortWhyte Alive hopes their new solar panel installation will highlight the need for clean, renewable energy across the globe.


“One of the main pillars of our mission is to educate about sustainability,” said Ian Barnett, director of operations at FortWhyte Alive. “Most of the world produces their energy by burning fossil fuels. That’s got to change.”

The 60-kilowatt solar installation dominates the entrance to FortWhyte Alive, Oct. 16, 2017./GERALYN WICHERS

FortWhyte Alive cut the ribbon on the 60-kilowatt solar installation, the largest in Winnipeg, on Oct. 12. Barnett said it will save FortWhyte Alive $350,000 in the installation’s 30-year lifespan.


In Canada, fossil fuels are the second most important source of electricity, according to Natural Resources Canada’s website.


“Sometimes in Manitoba we have our blinders on,” Barnett said.


He said that in Manitoba it’s sometimes taken for granted that electricity is clean. But hydroelectricity isn’t without environmental impact.


Manitoba Hydro’s solar energy program offers incentives for customers who’d like to install solar panels to offset their energy needs, their website said. A third of the cost of FortWhyte Alive’s solar installation was covered through this program.


A Red River College (RRC) staff survey in February and March of 2017 said that energy reduction was one of the staff’s top two sustainability priorities. RRC’s website says a resource reduction specialist is being brought in to concentrate on reducing the college’s plug load energy.


Students can make small changes at home to reduce their energy consumption. Manitoba Hydro suggests sealing gaps around windows to reduce air leakage and the need for the furnace to run. Water heaters are the second biggest energy user in the home, switching to an efficient showerhead, washing clothes in cold water, and only running the dishwasher for a full load can help conserve energy.