Let’s talk about Kamloops, actually, let’s talk about the future of Kamloops. Our team is connecting with innovative entrepreneurs from the Thompson Valley who are paving the way for a diverse, inclusive, and sustainable future to discuss the River City and what we need to tackle today to create the Kamloops of tomorrow. Welcome to Kamloops Tomorrow.
We had the opportunity to speak with Sean Palfenier about reducing our carbon footprint and choosing a renewable energy solution. The Riverside Energy Systems team not only provides a renewable energy option for the Thompson Valley, they also give clients the tools to save up to 100% of their power costs.
Riverside Energy is an environmentally conscious business that provides supply, installation and maintenance of solar energy systems. The team combines years of electronics experience with electrical engineering and design to provide full-service sustainable energy solutions. Whether working on large commercial projects, net zero homes, or off-grid/on-grid homes, the team provides clients with systems that increase sustainability, improve energy system efficiency, decrease electrical energy consumption and reduce or eliminate electrical grid dependence.
Interview questions answered by Sean Palfenier. Interview conducted by Boom Business Solutions.
Riverside Energy is an avid and active local voice that champions sustainability and carbon footprint reduction. Why are these so important to you?
This is what got us all into solar power and renewable energy in the first place. We are a group of electricians, electrical engineers, and technicians who were looking for something more than just a job. There is nothing against anyone trying to get by and make money, but when you can combine your income with something that has a positive impact on the place we call home, it makes it that much easier getting out of bed. In short, it feels like a purpose to all of us.
What are the key benefits your clients see from their customized energy system?
The number one thing our clients aim for is to save money, and there’s nothing wrong with that! So when you ask someone to invest in a technology that will help reduce the global carbon emissions, it has to first make financial sense to the investor. Every system we quote and build is custom to each individual situation, and no two systems are exactly alike.
Riverside Energy Systems has some pretty cutting-edge technology. What are some of the latest innovations in solar power?
There is a ton of new technology emerging daily, and it can be hard to keep up. The biggest challenge is finding a product that can be distributed commercially while maintaining a 25-year guarantee. The industry has shifted its attention to storage (batteries), and we are starting to see the price come down and reliability go up. This is a big game changer for individual wants and needs as far as self-sustainability is concerned. Building integration is another important component that has become a big focus for the industry. We are starting to see aspects of a structure (windows, walls, etc.) made from solar panels and batteries in order to take up less of a footprint in the overall structure.
Kamloops is one of the sunniest cities in British Columbia. Why don’t more local businesses choose solar?
This one comes down to long-term vision, affordability, and rate structure. If you look 10 years down the road and imagine yourself, your kids, or your community owning the building and paying the cost of electricity, then solar makes a ton of sense. Another factor to consider is that currently, hydro costs are fairly affordable and competitive when it comes to large general service rates. For those clients, it is more about generating their own power rather than seeing a payback in less than a decade. Kamloops actually has the potential to produce over 20% more than the global average when it comes to solar power. To put that figure into perspective, Germany, which is one of the leaders when it comes to adopting this technology, gets close to 900 watts per 1000 watts of installed solar. That same amount installed in Kamloops would yield closer to 1200 watts per 1000 watts installed.
Let’s talk about the Kamloops of tomorrow. I want you to transport yourself 50 years into the future. In your opinion, what innovation is starting to emerge in the solar energy industry? What are the current roadblocks?
I like to picture a world where my children and their children have the opportunity to be a part of the energy industry. There would be two-sided factories. One side would recycle old or broken solar panels and bring them back to their basic element stage, and the other side would construct new panels using the pieces from the old. Of course, the entire process would be powered by the solar panels on top of the roof. Ideally, panels and storage will have become so efficient that the main challenge will be distribution and maintenance of the grid.
What advice do you have for businesses who would like to reduce their carbon footprint but are not sure where to start? What is step one?
My advice is to track down a reputable company that can help answer your questions and steer you in the right direction. Solar, wind, or micro hydro are not necessarily a good fit for everyone, and the individual goals should be addressed. Step one is to pick up the phone and ask questions. There is too much misinformation surrounding the industry to rely on websites and social media comments.
Besides renewable energy, what other actions can businesses take to reduce their carbon footprint?
I think a lot of people already know the answer to this one. Just be more conscious of your actions. If you really want to make a difference, a simple internet search of ‘how to reduce my carbon footprint’ will yield tons of great results. In my opinion, implementing a proper recycling program is a great start. It builds awareness and promotes good habits that employees will take home.
If a business wants to consider solar energy to reduce its footprint, what is the first step?
Again, contact a company that knows what they are talking about. Ask them if they have done projects similar to the size of the operation you are running. Let them answer your questions and do the hard thinking for you. They would not be in business if they were selling lies.
When you have out-of-town guests visiting Kamloops, what do you recommend they see/do?
As someone who grew up in Kamloops, I can say that the local food and drinks scene has been on an upward trend for some time now. If you like drinking wine, you will not be disappointed with the selection of local wineries. For a taste of good local food, I would check out almost any restaurant that is not a fast food chain. They all do a great job. Golf is also fantastic and affordable here compared to other places. If winter sports are more your thing, Sun Peaks and Harper Mountain have amazing trails and scenery to explore. Our hockey team is also a treat to watch, as we have some of the greatest and most loyal fans around. Go Blazers!