With Small Steps Towards Energy Independence
By Benjamin Fuehr
Several factors are driving a worldwide growing interest and demand for green energy, not the least of which is skyrocketing energy prices. Whether it is oil, coal, natural gas or nuclear power, it is a well known fact that we are rapidly depleting these non-renewable energy resources. That drives the prices for energy to record levels and will continue to do so in the coming years.
Renewable energy sources are the only feasible alternatives to our current expensive and narrow-minded energy policy. Green energy is clean and safe – unlike the environmentally disastrous oil production from the dirty Alberta tar sands or the highly dangerous and ridiculously expensive enrichment of uranium.
There are several options for home owners wanting to invest in renewable energy systems and make their first steps towards a sustainable and environmentally-friendly future.
Most common for home owners in Canada are solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. In Ontario, where the provincial government introduced the Green Energy and Green Economy Act in 2009, it is not an uncommon sight to see solar panels mounted on homes or garages, or to see ground mounts or trackers installed in fields.
But what other options are out there if you want to go green?
“There are many opportunities available in Canada”, explains Klaus Dohring, founder and president of Green Sun Rising Inc., a renewable energy company in Windsor, Ontario and one of the pioneers of green energy in Ontario.
“Geothermal and solar thermal systems, solar hot air systems and biomass boilers for domestic heat and heating water – making your house more energy efficient, potentially even energy Net Zero is absolutely possible,” says Dohring.
To achieve this, Green Sun Rising’s engineers constantly work on new ideas and products. Their latest example for an innovative product is the Solar Bikeport. With electric bikes, so called E-bikes becoming more and more popular, the company’s designers developed a device to protect these trendy gadgets from the elements – and simultaneously charge them for their next trip!
How does that work? Green Sun Rising’s solar experts have installed three flexible solar modules on the curved roof of the Bikeport. These thin-film modules, with a combined rated output of over 200W, produce enough power to fully charge an E-bike battery during the course of one sunny day.
But it doesn’t just charge E-bikes. Combined with a small bench, it can also serve as a simple and effective lounge that can be used as a bus stop or a covered seat in a park. The electricity could be used for charging smart phones or laptops while waiting or resting.
Green Sun Rising also offers carports covered with solar panels, in case customers want to protect their cars. With many major automakers now selling electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles, these carports are also available with an integrated level-2 charging station for electric vehicles.
These are just two examples of creative products and applications discovered when one starts exploring the growing fields of renewable or green energy. It can start with very small steps, with saving energy, installing a new furnace or a small solar photovoltaic or solar thermal system.
But the long term goal for all of us can only be an intelligent exit strategy out of our current fossil energy crisis. For that we need the enduring support of provincial and federal governments and the understanding of the Canadian population, that not only do we need to change our attitude towards energy consumption, we also need effective energy policy changes in our political system.
The Green Energy and Economy Act in Ontario is only the first small step on our journey to a sustainable energy world.
Benjamin Fuehr is a Marketing and Sales representative with Green Sun Rising Inc. GB