Trend towards solar power at Okanagan Valley wineries
Winemakers in the Okanagan Valley rely on the gargantuan power of the sun to produce the grapes, but now more and more wineries are using the sun’s rays for a different purpose.
To convert sunlight into electricity.
The last panels are being installed on top of a carport at Burrowing Owl Estate winery in Oliver.
“I think it’s a continuing philosophy we have here to be environmentally friendly,” said founder Jim Wyse.
Wyse said it’s more economical than ever.
“As the cost of the electric panels comes down much like flat-screen TV’s we’ve got interested in this,” he said.
But it is still a significant investment.
The cost of installing solar panels on five buildings totals almost $340,000 and will be paid off in 15 years through energy savings.
Wyse said the wine consumer cares about sustainability and he hopes sales will improve.
“Sure, ya I’m not going to pretend it won’t, I hope so, we will do it anyway but if it improves sales that’s a bonus,” Wyse said.
The trend towards green energy is growing in B.C.’s wine industry.
Roger Huber is the CEO Swiss Solar Tech, the Summerland-based company that installs the panels.
Huber said business has increased 300 per cent over the past year in large part due to interest from wineries.
“I think it’s just to reduce the CO2, the carbon that can get off the grid,” he said.
Huber said he uses special panels that can produce electricity from the top as well as from the reflection underneath.
So as the technology develops and the trend towards businesses reducing their carbon footprints continues, expect to see more wineries going off the grid.
WATCH: Okanagan winery leading the local sustainability movement by going off the grid
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