Solar-powered cheese

Sylvan Star Cheese is drawing on the sun to keep its award-winning cheeses cool.

Sylvan Star Cheese is drawing on the sun to keep its award-winning cheeses cool.

The cheese makers recently flipped the switch on a solar energy system that will produce enough power annually for about 14 average-sized homes.

It will also provide enough juice to allow the cheese producers to become net-zero energy users, meaning they will put as much power into the grid as they take out.

Red Deer-based CarbonBite Innovations installed the system, which is comprised of 460 solar panels mounted on the roughly 12,000-square-foot roof of Sylvan Star Cheese’s facility a few kilometres west of Red Deer on Hwy 11A.

Jennie Schalkwyk, who with husband John, owns Sylvan Star Cheese said with all of the sunshine they get the saw potential for easing power costs with solar energy.

They spend about $2,000 a month on power, much of it used for air conditioning and refrigerating to keep their products cool.

It cost about $300,000 to install the system, which the Schalkwyks’ expect to recoup in about seven years.

Sylvan Star Cheese showcased its brand new solar system on Friday as part of the third annual Alberta Green Energy Doors Open. The event encourages users, producers and advocates of green energy to show off some of the local achievements.

Kerry Wood Nature Centre and an off-grid passive solar monolithic dome in Lacombe County also participated this year.

Mark Whittaker, who handles technical design with CarbonBite, said the Sylvan Star Cheese solar array is the biggest private system in Red Deer County and likely Central Alberta.

Built and installed with no subsidies, the system is designed to provide power for the cheese farm’s air conditionining, refrigerating and other power needs for 25 years.

Excess power produced in the summer is sold into the province’s electrical grid. In the winter, when solar power production is down, electricity is bought from the grid. In the end, the two will balance out.

Solar power can be a good option, especially for commercial users, requiring large amounts of power.

Central Alberta and is more than 1,200 hours of sunlight a year has plenty of natural power at hand.

“It’s a good location for solar,” said Whittaker.

While the current low electricity prices make converting to solar a tougher sell, that situation won’t last forever.

“There’s nowhere to go but up,” said Whittaker.

The system installed at Sylvan Star Cheese will produce about 137,000 kWh per year. A typical house uses about 8,000 to 10,000 kWh.

There is plenty of potential for residential applications as well. A south-facing roof not encumbered with vents or chimneys is ideal to mount solar panels.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta energy war room must avoid online morass, preaching to choir: experts

CALGARY — Tzeporah Berman only learned of her cameo appearance at an… Continue reading

Two dead, including one who police believe was a child, in Alberta house fire

PLAMONDON, Alta. — Two people, including one who police believe was a… Continue reading

CSIS destroyed secret file on Pierre Trudeau, stunning historians

OTTAWA — Canada’s spy service destroyed a Cold War dossier on Pierre… Continue reading

Premier refuses to back down on plan to scrap 18,000 immigration applications

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is holding firm on his plan to scrap… Continue reading

Pro-pipelines rally draws crowd to City Hall

Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Canada missing out on billions in revenue

Federal cabinet decision on fate of Trans Mountain pipeline due Tuesday

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s $4.5 billion gamble to buy the Trans… Continue reading

Skier, 22 dies after fall on Mount Haig near Castle Mountain Ski Resort

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. — RCMP from the Pincher Creek, Alta., detachment are… Continue reading

4 years in, Trump fondly recalls Trump Tower campaign launch

NEW YORK — It was the escalator ride that would change history.… Continue reading

Massive protests draw apology from Hong Kong leadership

Hong Kong citizens marched for hours Sunday in a massive protest that… Continue reading

Butterfly garden keeper manages to film large tarantula shedding exoskeleton

VICTORIA — A 20-centimetre tarantula capable of killing a bird has been… Continue reading

Telegraph-Journal wins 2018 Michener Award recognizing public-service journalism

OTTAWA — The Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick has been named the winner… Continue reading

Victorious Raptors cancel their return to Toronto after becoming NBA champs

TORONTO — Some Raptors players returned to Toronto on Saturday night for… Continue reading

How a Montreal working-class neighbourhood’s activists changed Quebec and Canada

MONTREAL — The Pointe-St-Charles neighbourhood is isolated from the rest of Montreal… Continue reading

Most Read