The Use of Solar Energy at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
An Alternative, Renewable Energy Source
The south Okanagan valley is one of Canada’s best locations for capturing perpetual, green energy from the sun and converting into either heat or electricity. In 2016 Burrowing Owl Estate winery is moving forward with a major commitment to photovoltaic (PV or electrical) solar panels, that will produce clean/green electricity efficiently for the next 25 years.
Solar Hot Water
Ten years ago, the winery made its first foray into renewable solar energy panels to produce hot water, a commodity that wineries use in large quantities for barrel washing and other cellar-related cleansing functions. During the hottest summer months, our hot-water solar panels actually produce more hot water than we can use or store, so any excess heat is “dumped” into our swimming pool to the delight of our Guest House patrons.
The existing solar panels currently produce the equivalent of 48,000 kWh (kilowatt-hours) annually, and offset CO2 emissions of approximately 12,300 Kg (13.6 tons) annually.
During the last couple of years, like flat-screen TVs, the price of solar panels has plummeted as world-wide acceptance of the technology takes hold. Perhaps because of the abundance of hydro-electricity in this province, and the low cost of electricity here, the incentive to move to solar electric alternatives lags far behind the rest of the world, despite the significantly reduced up-front installation cost of recent years.
In 2016 Burrowing Owl Estate winery will be installing three sizable solar electric systems in conjunction with the new construction that is currently underway at the winery (July 2016) which will ultimately increase the size of our cellar by 7,500 sq ft.
1) Cellar Expansion:
This expansion at the northern end of the winery has 3,350 sf of open roof-top space. This area will be blanketed by 70 solar panels, each producing 310-volts of electricity. In total these 70 panels are expected to produce 25,770 kWh/year, while offsetting approximately 13,825 Kg (15.2 tons) of CO2 emissions annually.
2) Parking Lot Shade Structure:
In the centre of our parking area is a landscaped “island” where 12 cars would normally park. By the late fall of 2017, we hope to have designed and installed a protective cover over these 12 parking spaces that will consist of a roof that provides shade and protection from rain, and will support 220 solar panels. These panels will generate 80,500 kWh/year and will offset CO2 emissions of 43,175 Kg (47.6 tons).
3) Warehouse (Oliver):
The winery’s main warehouse is located in Oliver, and currently is also undergoing expansion so that in the end it will contain 45,000 sf of heated/air-conditioned and secure space. In spite of rigorous wall and ceiling insulation, the average electrical power usage is approximately 65,000 kWh/annually.
As part of the new construction work, 161 solar panels will be installed on the south-facing portion of the roof that will generate almost exactly our annual usage (65,000 kWh/year) and reduce carbon emissions by 34,900 Kg (38.4 tons). Since the energy produced will match the energy used, this facility will have a “zero carbon footprint”, probably the first such claim to be made in our region by anybody.
Electric Car Charging Stations
As a demonstration of our support for electrically powered automobiles, in 2017, Burrowing Owl Estate winery will be installing four charging stations in the parking area for the use of our visitors and staff.
In 2006, Burrowing Owl took its first step into renewable energy with an investment into solar hot water panels.
Our second step in 2016 will be to install three separate clusters of solar electric panels totalling 451 panels that will produce a total of 171,200 kWh/year off the grid, forever.
The total contribution of solar energy at Burrowing Owl from all sources, will be the equivalent of 220,000 kWh/year, which will offset carbon emissions by 115 tons/year. These are large numbers, and both of which we are very proud.
Stay tuned . . . this will not be our last step into the field of alternative, renewable energy.