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Makkovik test community for large solar panel system

The solar panel system being installed on the Makkovik Arena is expected to offset 14,000 litres of diesel a year.  CONTRIBUTED BY GREEN SUN RISING INC.
The solar panel system being installed on the Makkovik Arena is expected to offset 14,000 litres of diesel a year. CONTRIBUTED BY GREEN SUN RISING INC. - Contributed

Nunatsiavut government will use largest system ever in Labrador to tap sunshine and reduce diesel use

MAKKOVIK, N.L. —

Makkovik gets sunshine on average 269 days a year, according to Environment Canada, and now it will be harnessing all that solar energy.

Recently the arena in Makkovik has been a construction site as a 48-kilowatt AC and a 56-kilowatt DC solar panel system is installed on its roof.

Neil Hawkes, the Sustainable Energy Coordinator for the Nunatsiavut government, said the purpose of the panels is two fold.

A solar panel system, believed to be the largest in Labrador, is being installed on the Makkovik Arena. CONTRIBUTED BY GREEN SUN RISING INC.
A solar panel system, believed to be the largest in Labrador, is being installed on the Makkovik Arena. CONTRIBUTED BY GREEN SUN RISING INC.

“By rough estimates we’re looking at saving about 14,000 litres of diesel a year, by installing these solar panels,” Hawkes said in an interview. “It’s to reduce reliance on diesel and there’s also a financial burden for the community governments, just the upkeep of the whole system. By having some solar in there, reducing that diesel is reducing the environmental impact. There are many benefits to it for sure.”

Hawkes said the project came from the Nunatsiavut Energy Security Plan released in 2016, which outlined the need for less reliance on diesel. The federal government has also been pushing the issue for a number of years and provided the majority of the funding for the Makkovik project.

The system being built is the largest of its kind in Labrador, Hawkes said.

“Some people have solar on their cabins and there’s a few solar panels around town for small applications but nothing of this size,” he said. “Assuming it all goes well, we hope it will be just the start of things.”

Klaus Dohring, president of Green Sun Rising Inc., the company installing the system, said it has been working on diesel reduction for about six years and have done about two dozen solar systems in the north of Canada, all the way from the Beaufort Delta to now the Labrador coast.

Dohring said the area is a great location for a solar system and saves the community money in a few ways.

“There’s the diesel saved and every kilowatt hour they generate with this is a kilowatt hour they don’t have to buy from the utility,” he said.

He said the community has shown interest in the project and they’ve been happy to tell people what’s going on, even hosting an information session in the school.

Dohring said they hope to work with the Nunatsiavut government again in the future, installing systems in other communities.

Hawkes said they are considering solar panel systems in others parts of Nunatsiavut and are trying it out in Makkovik first.

The flat, open roof is a perfect opportunity, he said.

"NG has looked at quite a bit on the different recreation centres and have done quite a bit of work improving the efficiency of those facilities which are quite large and using a lot of energy,” Hawkes said.

“We’re looking at ways to reduce that and efficiency is the first place that we start with, looking at renewable energies like solar,” he said. “This would certainly be applicable in other communities. It makes sense once this demonstrates that it will work. There’s no reason to believe it won’t but it’s always nice to try it out.”

Dohring said the system should be up and running by mid-November.

evan.careen@thelabradorvoice.ca

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