satellite image showing Quadra Elementary school and the surrounding are

Solar panels for Quadra Elementary School

Quadra ICAN will soon be installing 14 solar panels on the roof of Quadra Elementary School. Terratek Energy already has the panels and mounting system in stock. They are waiting for final approval, which should arrive in December.

Photo credit – screenshot from Google Earth

The system is expected to generate approximately 5.6 megawatt hours of power a year, which is what an average home uses and about 5% of the school’s electricity needs. 

As ICAN Energy Self-Sufficiency team members Jan Zwicky and Mike Gall explained, this project is meant to educate grade 5 and 6 children how solar panels work.

They will be able to access real time readings of what the panels are generating at any given moment, on their computers and phones.

“So during the summer when they generate lots of power, that would be a pretty exciting event, but in the winter we can also find that perhaps solar panels are a little bit weak as part as the total,” explained Gall.

He added that this shortfall leads to the question,  “What else can we add to help reduce the costs of operation?”

Monthly electricity production estimate for proposed Quadra Elementary School project from the Helioscope produced by Kevin Berry, Folsom Labs, July 8, 2021

This could also prompt kids to start asking to see the family BC Hydro bills at home. 

“Part of the idea is also to help members of the community evaluate the extent to which solar power might be at least a partial solution for them,” said Zwicky. 

One of the advantages of real time readings is that, if the panels are not generating sufficient power at any given moment, people can choose to lower their energy consumption. 

Quadra ICAN is waiting for approval to add the weight of the panels to the school’s roof. They originally hoped to use a new lightweight racking system, but “discovered the roof was constructed in such a way that there was a little layer in it that couldn’t be penetrated.” This meant they need to use a standard system, which requires a permit.

Solar panels on the roof of G.P. Vanier Secondary in the Comox Valley, School District 71, courtesy Terratek Energy

Zwicky is confident this is coming because “we only need to add a very small amount of weight per square foot.” The roof was built to carry the snow loads experienced 25-40 years ago and the calculations for this region have been lowered due to climate change. This means that even  with the added weight of the panels, the roof should still meet engineering requirements, “but we have to be able to prove that engineering wise.” 

“If we can get the approval,  we would start construction in December. The system would be operational by at least the new year, maybe even in December,” said Gall. “We would hopefully also be able to take advantage of the school break during the winter months so that we’re not interfering with the kids access to the school while it’s being done. It’s only a day or two’s worth of work.”

Estimated Annual Production for proposed Quadra Elementary School project from the Helioscope produced by Kevin Berry, Folsom Labs, July 8, 2021

Top photo credit: Satellite image of Quadra Elementary School and surrounding area in Quathiaski Cove, Quadra Island – courtesy Google Maps

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