Category: Renewable Energy



164. The EnergieSprong has sprung!

We take a look at an ambitious energy efficiency retro-fit program designed to bring all buildings in the Netherlands to a net-zero standard by 2050.

Skeena passive house

163. Skeena – Canada’s largest passive house

The Heights is an 85-unit apartment complex in Vancouver that is the largest passive house in Canada. The project is leading the way to for a zero emissions building policy in Vancouver.

162. 2016 year in review

From wind-powered cities and schools to net-zero straw-bale homes, Green Energy Futures reflects on our green energy past.

159. When the levy breaks

What’s in a name? Quite a bit actually! This week, we examine Alberta’s carbon levy and the affect it will have on Albertans.

158. Workers want a just energy transition

We examine the state of the world’s renewable energy investment and meet BlueGreen Canada, an advocacy group that seeks to secure a fair shake for workers affected by the sunset of the coal industry.

153. Vulcan builds Canada’s first solar park

Vulcan, Alberta, the Star Trek Capital of Canada, has built the countries first aesthetically-minded solar park. Residents and visitors alike can now soak in rays alongside a visually pleasing solar resource.

Bull Creek Wind Farm

151. Wind farm powers 500 Alberta schools

Twenty six school districts in Alberta banded together to purchase 100 per cent renewable energy and have the Bull Creek Wind Farm, near Provost, Alberta to show for it. We talk to school trustees, the CEO of BluEarth Renewables, a farmer and a member of the Alberta Government on location at the Bull Creek Wind Farm.

Summerside2

148. Summerside smart grid uses 46 per cent wind power

Summerside, Prince Edward Island (PEI) replaced expensive diesel power with record amounts of wind power using a smart grid and simple energy storage in residents furnaces and hot water heaters.

You may know Bob Chelmick as the calm, steady, professional former news anchor from CBC and CTV. But this city boy who built a career under the glare of the city lights, and spotlit newsrooms found his own authenticity in the "calming quiet of the country" where he built his storied solar-powered Cabin in the Woods the inspiration behind the landmark radio series The Road Home. “I wanted to integrate the things I love in my life most. Living here in a cabin, living out of the city, living in nature, making radio, storytelling, and painting pictures through that storytelling.” “The best pictures I make are on radio,” says the accomplished photographer. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

147. Bob Chelmick’s Solar-powered Cabin in the Woods

Bob Chelmick is a former CBC news anchor who built his storied solar-powered “Cabin in the Woods” and started the ground-breaking radio series entitled: The Road Home. We visit the home of solar-powered radio this week on Green Energy Futures.

A beautiful home in West Cape PEI with the West Cape Wind Farm in the background. Islanders get an average of 26 per cent of their electricity from wind power. Virtually all of the rest comes from an inter-tie undersea cable to the New Brunswick grid. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

145. Prince Edward Island rocks wind power

Prince Edward Island, Canada (PEI) is home of the highest proportion of wind power in North America. We talk to Energy Minister Paula Biggar about how this little province replaced expensive diesel power with enough wind power to provide 26 per cent of the electricity in PEI.

Calgary is wind powered

143. Renewable energy powers Canada’s oil capital

When people think Calgary, renewable energy doesn’t usually come to mind. But dig a little deeper and it seems the oil capital of Canada is more ready for a carbon tax than many jurisdiction, thanks to investments in renewable energy the city is in a great position to save money.

Medicine Hat, Alberta AKA "The Gas City" wanted to diversify into wind power so they entered into a public private partnership with Wind River Power to build a 6 megawatt wind farm, the largest inside a city in Canada. The power purchase agreement is what helped access bank financing from ATB Financial, something that is challenging in Alberta's deregulated electricity market. Since Alberta needs 5-7 gigawatts of new renewable energy by 2030, creating enough price certainty to attract bank financing will be very important in Alberta. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca Learn more: http://www.greenenergyfutures.ca/episode/canada-germany-renewable-financing

141. Financing critical for renewable energy projects

Securing investment in renewable energy is getting easier, but banks have a few things they like to see in projects, like price certainty and long term contracts that ensure a steady stream of revenue to support the loans needed to develop renewable energy projects.

Saskatchewan will add another 1,700 megawatts of wind capacity between now and 2030 to reach their goal of 50% of generation capacity. This naturally means actual generation by renewables will be much lower due to capacity factors of less than 50%. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

140. Saskatchewan blows the dust off its dirty electricity grid

Moving from one of the dirtiest grids in the country to 50 per cent renewable is no small task. However, Saskatchewan’s ambitions are matched by the quality of their renewable resource. We visit the Morse Wind Farm in southern Saskatchewan to see the start of the wind energy boom in Saskatchewan.

Visiting the Kinney Earthship, in the dead of winter on the Canadian prairie landscape north of Lethbridge, Alberta does invite comparisons with the lunar landscape! So much so it inspired photographer Steve Nagy to create this selfie in the middle of the night on a fine winter day. And in fact the number one question the Kinney's get about their Earthship is how does this passive solar heated home work when it's -30 degrees celsius.

136. Earthship living in a cold Canadian winter

How does a passive solar heated Earthship fare in the long cold Canadian winter. This week we return to a familiar place, the Kinney Family Earthship, to see how it holds up in the middle of a cold Canadian prairie winter.

The Mosaic Centre in Edmonton, Alberta is a net-zero commercial building powered by a nearly 200 kilowatt solar system (some of which is flat mounted) and heated by a geoexchange system that runs on solar power.

135. Shining a light on solar energy myths

Aren’t we too far north for solar? I’ve heard solar doesn’t work in the cold. And aren’t solar modules only 15 per cent efficient? This week take an illuminating look at some pesky solar myths and help you sort myths from facts.

In Green Energy Futures' whirlwind tour of wind energy myths we learned that the only significant health effect of wind farms is that they annoy some people. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

133. A whirlwind tour of wind energy myths

Ever hear the one about how it takes more energy to make a wind turbine than it will produce over its lifetime? This week we blow the smoke away, and delve into some of the more pernicious myths about wind energy. Bookmark this one, you’ll want to use it later!

Jason Rioux's shipping container cabin. The cabin was built out of seven sea containers in a hub and spoke pattern near Bobcaygeon, Ontario. This incredibly innovative sea container cabin is powered by a small 1 kW solar system and is packed with energy efficiency innovation - probably part of the reason the video has more than 100k views on YouTube. Photo Courtesy of Jason Rioux

130. Green Energy Futures: Our favourite stories from 2015

2015 will go down as the year that marked the dawning of the age of the net-zero home. We took notice by preparing our four-part Chasing Net-Zero series. And we we just loved the story about Jason Rioux’s shipping container cabin, as did almost 200,000 viewers!  Here are some of our favourites from 2015.

Highlight of 2015 - Dan Hofer, financial boss, David Vonesch of Skyfire Energy and Jake Hofer electrician with Green Acres Farm near Bassano, Alberta pose in front of their 2 megawatt solar farm that consists of more than 7,600 solar modules that produce the electricity to run Green Acre's recycling and farming operations. Photo David Dodge GreenEnergyFutures.ca

129. Green Energy: The highlights of 2015

2015 was a banner year for clean, green energy! Vancouver pledged to go 100 per cent renewable energy, the Cowessess First Nation built a wind turbine and is testing energy storage, Edmonton passed an energy transition plan and Rachael Notley the new premier of Alberta announced a plan to phase out coal and greatly expand renewable energy.

Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver says "In our greenest city plan we have a goal to double the number of green jobs in the city." More than 3,000 of the clean energy jobs found in the Clean Energy Jobs map are in Vancouver. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

120. Vancouver to go 100 per cent renewable

When Vancouver Mayor first ran for election he pledged to make his city the “greenest city in the world.” Now Vancouver has upped the ante pledging to make the city 100 per cent renewable by 2050.

Abasi Sanders shows off one of the creatively designed wind turbines created by students involved in the TREC Education Capture the Wind program in a Toronto school. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

119. Students capture the wind with TREC Education

Talk about light bulb moments, the grade 5 students at George Webster School in Toronto, Ontario are literally turning the lights on in TREC Education’s Capture the Wind renewable education program.

This concentrated solar thermal plant will supply superheated fluid to the city’s natural gas fired power plant, enough to generate one megawatt of electricity. Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

88. Canada’s first concentrated solar thermal plant

Welcome to Canada’s first concentrated solar thermal energy plant in sunny Medicine Hat, Alberta. Discover how “The Gas City” is adding solar and wind to diversify it’s electricity supply in a city endowed with rich fossil fuel resources.

Himark Biogas has trademarked the process of integrating cattle, biogas and ethanol operations and they have actually licensed it for use by other companies in the US. Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

84. Integrated bio-refinery

On their own a feedlot, an anaerobic digester and an ethanol plant might not make sense but combine them and you’ve got an integrated bio-refinery where each business feeds the other in a virtuous cycle.

Landmark Solar Townhomes

81. Chasing Net Zero: Go big or go home

Landmark Homes is planning to have all of their homes be net-zero by 2015. Learn how net-zero is transitioning from small custom home builders to large scale companies.

Shafraaz and Serena Kaba’s near net-zero home was inspired by the German concept of the Passivhaus, a super energy efficient home that requires very little energy for heating or cooling. The home is air tight, very well insulated and it gets half its heating from passive solar energy streaming through the windows. Photo Darren Greenwood

80: Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero evolution

In 10 years net-zero homes have gone from government pilot project to mass production. Shafraaz Kaba’s near net-zero home is an excellent example of how we got there.

Spo'pi solar house

79. Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero beautiful

We look at making energy efficient, infill homes that are beautiful and also at how the location of your home can have a dramatic effect on your energy footprint.

Photo Garth Crump Chasing net-zero Part 1: Net-zero 101

78. Chasing Net Zero: Net-zero 101

The first episode of our four-part series Chasing Net-Zero.  We dive into the history of net-zero homes and figure out you can build one of these comfortable, beautiful homes that also doubles as a mini-powerplant.

77. Classroom energy challenge

This week we follow students at Prairie Waters school in Chestermere, Alberta to seek out and destroy energy vampires, increase energy literacy and save energy in the Classroom Energy Diet Challenge.

Photo Duncan Kinney, Green Energy Futures GLOBE 2014 Vancouver

72. Three up and comers show their stuff at GLOBE 2014

This week join us as head head to Globe 2014 into the Grizzly Den, where 36 different companies are pitching to investors, partners and customers. We feature three out of 30 that we thought you should know about.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Executive Flight Centre Development Edmonton International Aiport

70. Solar hot water 101

With cheap natural gas and cheap solar PV is solar hot water still worth it? We explore how this technology works and in what applications it makes the most sense.

60. Phasing out coal in Alberta

We talk to a doctor who knows the true health costs of coal in Alberta as well as Alberta’s new Associate Minister of Renewable Energy and Electricity on what she would replace coal with.

Energy Storage

57. Energy storage: Power-to-gas and better batteries

Renewable energy produces energy when the sun shines and the wind blows, but these entrepreneurs are developing better batteries and new and innovative ways of capturing and storing renewable energy.

Pam Goertzen of Climate Change Central shows off the Nest programmable thermostat.

55. Green Energy Futures holiday gift guide

It’s that time of the year to sweat about what exactly you’re going to give to the people you care about in your life. Here at Green Energy Futures we’ve taken the time to come up with a short but awesome list of what to get for someone whether they’re a total green energy geek or they’re a total green energy neophyte.

Rae-Anne Wadey of Great Canadian Solar working on the Eastgate Environment Canada building in Edmonton. Photo by David Dodge, Green Energy Futures.

53. The cheap solar revolution is upon us

Soon solar will be so cheap it won’t make sense not to have it on your house, office building or spare building facing south. The price of solar has dropped one hundred times in the past 35 years, that’s not a typo. Learn what’s driving the low cost of solar and where and when you’ll start seeing it in the near term this week at Green Energy Futures.

Tom Rand is an entrepreneur and cleantech expert. He's a senior advisor with the MaRS cleantech practice and a managing partner of the MaRS Cleantech Fund. Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

51. Tom Rand and the MaRS Cleantech Fund

The International Energy Agency estimates the cleantech market will be a three to four trillion dollar concern by 2020. Tom Rand is helping Canadian entrepreneurs get a slice of that trillion dollar pie through his work at the MaRS cleantech business incubator and through investing in early stage cleantech startups with the MaRS cleantech fund. Learn all about this week on Green Energy Futures.

Cam Carver, CEO of Temporal Power with a 9,000 pound steel flywheel suspended by magnets and held in a vacuum to reduce friction. Photo David Dodge

49. The Energy storage revolution!

We talk to two Canadian startups working in the energy storage space, Temporal Power, a a company making flywheels and eCAMION doing community battery storage.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Sherwood Park Biomass/Nat Gas District Heating Project

46. Biomass district heating in Sherwood Park

In Sherwood Park, Alberta just minutes from refinery row city hall, the famous Festival Place Theatre, condos, a high school and more buildings are all heated by biomass, wood to be exact.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Shot at EECOL Electric in Calgary, Alberta.

45. Big idea: The distributed generation revolution

Ever looked at the breakdown of your electricity bill with all of its transmission and distribution charges and wondered if there was a better way? There is and it’s called distributed generation. Learn about it this week at Green Energy Futures.

Peter Amerongen led the construction of the first net-zero home in Edmonton, Alberta and continues to lead innovation by specializing in the construction of net-zero homes. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

41. Net-zero evolution: From the Star Trek Enterprise to utter simplicity

It took a 45-person team to build Edmonton’s first net-zero home. In six short years since then net-zero builders are constructing cheaper and radically simpler net-zero homes. We Peter Amerongen and Simon Knight, two net-zero pioneers.

T'Sou-ke Chief Gordon Planes

38. T’sou-ke First Nation goes all in on energy conservation and solar

The T’Souke First Nation on Vancouver Island developed and implemented a plan that slashed 75 per cent of their energy use and installed solar PV to provide clean power. It turns out it’s a lot easier to go net-zero when you drastically cut your energy use.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Edmonton Waste Management Facility

33. Landfill gas: How old garbage can generate electricity

Landfills are quickly becoming centres of innovation when it comes to turning what we throw away into energy. Edmonton has had a landfill gas operation since 1992 and it was the first in Western Canada to turn old garbage into a new resource. Learn how it’s done this week on Green Energy Futures.

Receiving one of two daily biomass shipments at the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility at UBC. Photo David Dodge

32. UBC district heating: Low carbon Lego

The new low temperature hot water style heating system at UBC is taylor-made to integrate renewable energy systems like biomass, geoexchange, solar thermal and waste heat into a natural gas system all because the barrier for entry is lower. The bouncer at the old steam heating system was pretty strict – you had to be 190 C to get in. Now you only have to get the temperature up to 80 C.

 

Cows in the cow barn eat when they are hungry and big rakes automatically collect manure from the floors to feed the biogas operation on on the Callaghan family farm in Lindsay, Ontario. Ontario has built about 30 similar projects that produce electricity, clean up environmental problems and creates economic diversification on the farm. Photo David Dodge, GreenEnergyFutures.ca

31. Biogas: Closing the loop on cow poop

Cow poop isn’t typically thought of as a valuable resource. But with a process called anaerobic digestion that cow poop can be turned into electricity, heat, a near odourless fertilizer and and animal bedding.

The Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver is striving to be a LEED Platinum building and to meet the Living Building Challenge certification, a standard met by only three other buildings in the world. Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

29. Canada’s greenest building

This four-story, 60,000 square feet structure is practically a living thing. It’s a $37-million laboratory that aims to achieve LEED Platinum status, but more than that, they’re also pursuing a Living Building Challenge certification. This certification is so hard to get, there are only three certified living buildings in the world.

Dan Balaban is the CEO of Greengate Power and as we’ve described him on the program before, a clean energy cowboy who’s building big wind projects in Alberta’s deregulated electricity market with hardly any local government help. “The federal government should be very clear that we favour clean sources of energy in this country to dirty sources of energy,” says Balaban in the report.

26. Clean energy entrepreneurs

With more than 700 companies, the cleantech sector has emerged as a major driver of innovation and employment growth in Canada, investing almost $2 billion in research and development. We talk to Canadian entrepreneurs about can be done to ensure that Canada grows in concert with this rapidly expanding $1 trillion global clean technology industry.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Willow harvesting at Ohaton Sewage Lagoon, Camrose County, Alberta

25. Waste to willows

Learn how a small rural Albertan county is treating it’s waste in a more environmentally responsible fashion and growing their own substitute for natural gas. They pump the effluent from a waste lagoon into a densely planted stand of willows. Willows like moist soil, grow fast and grow easily in our climate. That willow is then chopped down every three years and can be used for wood, heat or compost. In Camrose, they’re using it to heat their main county office.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

24. Our favourite stories of 2012

Join us as we dive into our archives and give you our favourite clips and behind the scenes moments from 2012. From nearly falling into the Bay of Fundy to angry anti-wind protesters we go coast to coast to coast to give you best.

Matthew Lumley shows a figure that illustrates how the coast line pinches in Minas Passage to produce a flood tide that races along more like a river than a tide. Photo David Dodge

23. Tidal energy 101

If Nova Scotia could get tidal energy to work right, it could power all of Nova Scotia. Discover the potential of tidal energy in the Minas Passage.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Nova Scotia

22. The greenest little campus in Canada

Université Sainte-Anne used three main ways to reduce its bills and its greenhouse gas emissions. Wind turbines to offset their electricity use and a biomass furnace and solar thermal systems to offset their use of expensive, trucked-in, carbon intensive heating oil. The best part was they didn’t have to put down a cent of their own money for the capital costs. Learn how and why they did in this week’s video.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Walmart-SMC Balzac Western Distribution Center

21. The unlikely Walmart sustainability story

When you think of Walmart do a plethora of contradictory thoughts and images come into your brain? Well get ready for it to get even more confusing because the world’s largest retailer and the 19th largest economy in the world have stepped up the plate with one of the best corporate sustainability plans in the world. It’s not just planning either, they’re executing it as well. We went to their Fresh Food Distribution Centre in Balzac to get the story.

Austen Hughes, a community wind developer with Natural Forces is developing several projects that qualify for Nova Scotia's community feed-in tariff. Photo by David Dodge

20. Nova Scotia’s community power

If you’re a cooperative, not-for-profit, municipality, university, First Nation or Community Economic Development Investment Fund you can qualify for Nova Scotia’s community feed-in tariff. This means a guaranteed economic return on any approved project and it means regular folks and not necessarily large multi-nationals get to see the financial benefits of building out new renewable energy infrastructure.

Photo Duncan Kinney, Green Energy Futures

19. Sunny solar Alberta

Some provinces have all of the luck. While poor PEI has little more than potatoes and tourists Alberta gets not only the lions share of Canada’s coal, oil, gas and bitumen, it gets the best solar resource in all of Canada too. We learned this by talking to Alberta’ solar industry veterans, experts from Ontario and even the minister of environment for Alberta, Diana McQueen at CANSIA West.

 

Light Up Alberta

17. Light Up Alberta

If I told you you could almost double the amount of money you got from the solar energy you put on the grid would that make you more likely to get a rooftop solar system? Spark and several other small electricity retailers are betting that you will. Is this the final push that gets solar over the hump in Alberta?

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures Pumpjack by River Cree Casino

16. Pumpjack powerplants

Canadian Control Works is a small Edmonton based company with a big idea. They’ve figured out how to create green electricity from the downswing of a pumpjack with a device called the Enersaver. We don’t give them much thought but each pump jack is moving 5-10 tons each time it goes up and down. By harvesting that energy oilfield operators save money and stabilize the grid around it.

Mike Brigham, the president of Solar Share, at its WaterView facility. Located on the roof of a bus manufacturing plant it has 438kw of thin-film solar.

13. Solar bonds: Ethical, local investing in solar energy

“We can take a commercial roof that was previously wasted space and turn it into a generation asset which is producing clean, safe, renewable energy,” says SolarShare president Mike Brigham.

Not only that but investors get to finance these projects through solar bonds and see a healthy financial return without creating a toxic legacy.

Heidi Eijgel, rides her horse Luna, past the turbines of Summerview wind farm.

12. Heidi Eigel: One farmer’s wind story

Heidi Eijgel has lived next to the 136 megawatt Summerview wind farm since 2003. She is happy to have these towers of clean, green power next to her home. She tells us about the noise levels, the effects on wildlife and the business and environmental case for wind energy.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

10. The renewable energy revolution in Ontario

The German style feed-in tariff that Ontario implemented in 2009 has made Ontario a North American leader in renewable energy. Learn how they did and why other provinces need to follow the lead of Ontario.

09. How Toronto’s waterfront wind turbine kick-started a green energy revolution

When the people behind the Toronto Renewable Energy Cooperative first thought up the idea of a highly visible urban wind turbine they had no idea how far it would eventually go. From this revolutionary first project grew the organizations and people who would nudge Ontario towards North America’s first German style feed-in tariff.

03. How Enmax is making simple, easy, low-cost, off-the-shelf solar a reality

Have you ever wanted to get solar panels on your house but were scared of the costs, time and effort it would take? Enmax, a Calgary based utility, has simplified the process for homeowners with their Generate Choice program. Simply sign up and if you qualify Enmax will handle the installation, permitting and maintenance.

Meet the people and families that have taken the solar energy plunge.

Photo David Dodge, Green Energy Futures

02. NAIT’s new alternative energy program zeros in on solar, wind, geothermal and more

NAIT’s Alternative Energy Program is helping meet the increasing demand for professionals to design, build, install and maintain green energy systems. A two-year program, it teaches students the intricacies of solar, wind, geothermal and even fuel cell systems.

Meet the students and instructors who are helping to create the next generation of skilled green energy workers.

01. Author Chris Turner on taking the green energy leap

Author Chris Turner is an inspiration. As a writer he has focused on real world examples of people, places and programs where the future is already here. Things like self-sufficient islands in Denmark, Germany’s renewable energy metamorphosis and the surprising results of Spain’s commitment to high-speed rail.

We speak with Chris about the three leaps we need to take to replace non-renewable energy with renewable energy in the next 50 years.

Medicine Hat’s smart energy revolution (pilot episode)

The award winning Hat Smart program in Medicine Hat, Alberta provides incentives and rebates for renewable energy and energy efficiency and has really captured the imagination of residents of this Southern Alberta City of 61,000 people. In this week’s episode Alderman Ted Clugston explains how success depends on a sexy program, a solar powered dentist shows his stuff and a home builder explains how building an EnerGuide 89 geothermal heated home is helping him build better, greener homes.