Project: Community Solar Garden

Elizabeth has a broad range of environmental sustainability knowledge and experience from designing and certifying buildings to carbon offsetting, waste planning, and renewable energy. After an undergraduate degree in Math and combined sciences she wanted to use these skills to help support less privileged groups. She worked for several charitable organizations including Amnesty International before shifting her focus to the natural environment. A masters in sustainable building design and renewable energy facilitated a career in the green building design industry. She has complemented her technical knowledge of energy modeling and renewable energy systems with strategic planning and visioning work. Elizabeth has a genuine commitment to protecting and restoring the natural environment which is reflected in her lifestyle choices, volunteer work and leisure activities in the mountains.

The project

I am working on bringing the solar PV garden idea to Vancouver as they have done in New West and Nelson. The idea is that investors can purchase one or more 'panels' which in turn pays for a very large array. The utility savings are passed back to the investors. The positives are investors like the idea of having something physical and local without having to host on their own roof, reduces cost limitations. Large scale means savings can be found in gear and install brings community together. The challenges are Vancouver doesn't have its own utility. BC Hydro's 'net metering' only allows an array with annual capacity to match annual building use – i.e. we need a big roof on a high energy use building. Due to the BC Hydro net metering component, the solar PV generation would offset current building energy use - for a well-positioned 50kW array, you would expect to achieve around 50,000 kWh of electricity annually. This would offset approximately 0.53 tonnes CO2 equivalent. However, if the company did then electrify a previously fossil fuel process, greater savings would be achieved. It has been shown that investing in solar leads to a cut in usage as well.