A Brantford-based energy company is celebrating the completion of a project to install solar panels on the barn roofs of Ontario’s largest beef cattle operation.
Solarize Energy, headed by green-energy entrepreneur Carlos Leite, has finished the installation of panels on the last of five barns at Van Osch Farms near Mount Carmel, outside London.
They will hold an unveiling celebration on Friday at the farm.
The two-year phased installation is the fulfilment of a $4.5-million approved application to the Feed-In-Tariff program, which oversees wind, solar and other green-energy technology that sells power to the Ontario Power Authority.
“It was a great opportunity to partner with Van Osch on an important project,” James Calnan, business development officer for Solarize Energy, said in an interview Tuesday.
“Rooftop solar is popular in agriculture because it doesn’t interrupt a farm’s operation in any way, it doesn’t change the landscape, and it doesn’t take any farmland out of production,” said Calnan.
“It also gives farms another source of income, allowing operators to avoid taking off-farm employment.”
For Van Osch Farms, owned by Fred and Gerald Van Osch, the total 1,000-panel system will allow them to produce 675 kilowatt hours a year of electricity, most of which will be sold to the grid.
That much power will meet the energy needs of 80 average Ontario homes for one year.
The second income source comes as a bonus, Gerald Van Osch said in a statement.
“To capture the sunshine, what an idea,” he said.
“You never have to plant; you just harvest.”
The Van Osch project has been chosen as part of a landmark study by the federal Ministry of Natural Resources to monitor solar systems and assess how they respond to weather conditions, said Calnan.
“The study will help set a benchmark for other systems in Ontario. ”
Solarize Energy has other solar-panel, farm rooftop projects under development, which will be announced shortly, Calnan added.
“We’re looking forward to doing a lot more barns in southwestern Ontario.”