Germany, the country that gave us the concept for twinned highways and craft beer, has quietly, yet aggressively, been doing something that might be a little hard to wrap one’s head around: powering itself with solar energy. In the first six months of 2018, Germany, which is about 4/5th the size of the Atlantic Provinces, but with a population of almost 81,000,000, produced enough renewable energy in the first half of 2018 to power every household in the country for a year. They have achieved this with a combination of wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric power.
Canada ranks 13th in the world for the amount of installed solar capacity and gets just 0.5 per cent of its power from solar energy. In New Brunswick, solar energy generation accounts for 0.01% (or 1.1MW) of energy production in the province. This is enough to power about 84 homes. We definitely have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but the good news is that something is happening, even right here in Sackville.
Beausejour Renewable Energy Co-operative Ltd. (BRE) was established recently to put focus on and encourage the growth of solar energy in the southeast region of New Brunswick. BRE is an initiative of EOS Eco-Energy and a group of residents in Sackville area.
“BRE is a renewable energy investment co-operative that is seeking to pool local investment dollars to place renewable energy systems in southeast New Brunswick,” explains EOS executive director Amanda Marlin.
BRE is made up of a small board of five people, each investing funds of their own to explore the possibilities of getting solar power into the hands of the everyday citizen. Potential projects currently under consideration are residential and commercial lease-to-own solar panels.
“For example, people and businesses who would like to install solar panels on their properties but can’t afford the large upfront costs, can choose to lease a system through BRE and pay for it over a set period of time such as 10, 15 or 20 years,” says Eric Tusz-King, chair of the BRE board of directors. Profits from the leasing program are then shared with investor members of the co-op.
“It’s a win-win for the local economy and for the environment,” states Dr. Thomas Priemer, treasurer for the BRE board of directors.
BRE is currently looking for homeowners, business owners and other building owners in southeast New Brunswick who would like to finance a solar energy project through the co-op. With some initial information like power bills and a site visit, BRE can provide lease details. BRE is also looking for investors for solar projects and will be using the Community Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) tax tool in New Brunswick which will provide investors with a 50% provincial income tax credit for investments over $1,000.
Solar energy is steadily becoming more affordable and less cumbersome, but most importantly the cleanest alternative energy source around. The latest IPCC report states that we have less than 12 years left to avert global climate catastrophe and energy use in buildings accounts for a large percentage of emissions. By participating in a local lease-to-own program, property owners (residential and commercial) can benefit from solar energy with monthly costs that are reasonable. If you are interested in finding out more about BRE, to invest in the co-op, or to request an information package for your home, business or organization, contact BRE at 506-536-4487 or firstname.lastname@example.org.