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Posted on: August 30, 2021

Town of Banff powers up newest solar project

Biomass Facility News

The Town of Banff’s latest solar photovoltaics (PV) project is now providing electricity to the energy centre building, which provides heat to four municipal buildings using a biomass district heating system. 

“The completion of this solar array allows our energy centre to operate using renewable sources, bringing us one step closer to our municipal goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050,” said Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno. “The Town of Banff is serious about addressing climate change by reducing our contribution of greenhouse gas emissions and by inspiring other organizations and communities to transition to renewable energy.” 

The new 12kW 30-panel solar PV array offsets energy needed from the grid to power lighting in the building and electrical components that support the advanced biomass district heating system. The energy centre building uses wood waste to heat a water/glycol mixture that is pumped through an underground pipe network that heats the new Roam Transit Operations & Training Centre, the Fleet Services Building, the Operations Maintenance Shop and the Waste Transfer Station. 

The small solar system in the Town’s Operations compound in the Industrial District is the eighth solar PV array on Banff municipal facilities.  Three of the buildings that are connected to the biomass district heating system also have solar arrays. In addition to the municipality’s plan to transition entirely to renewable energy, the Town also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

“Located in Canada’s first national park, the Town of Banff must strive to be a model environmental community,” said DiManno. “With support from the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre and Environment and Climate Change Canada for projects like this, we are making great strides in our transition to a low-carbon economy. This effort will save costs for our taxpayers and tackles a global challenge, while helping protect the local natural environment that makes Banff so special.”

This $25,400 solar project received more than $7,600 of funding through the Alberta Municipal Solar Program. This program of the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre provides financial rebates to Alberta municipalities that install grid-connected solar PV systems on municipally owned facilities or land. The Action Centre is a partnership of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the Government of Alberta. The Banff project also received about $10,200 funding from the Government of Canada’s Low Carbon Economy fund, which invests in projects that will produce clean growth and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to help meet Canada’s climate commitments. The remaining $7,600 was funded by the Town of Banff.

The Town of Banff biomass district heating system uses a high-tech boiler to burn waste wood from a variety of feedstocks like construction waste and shipping pallets that currently go to landfill. The advanced combustion chambers produce extremely clean emissions, representing less than a single campfire. Eliminating fossil fuels from heating and reducing waste going to landfill significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is intended to expand as it demonstrates the technology opportunity to other organizations in the community. Cost savings and greenhouse gas reductions will grow as more buildings connect to district heating systems.

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