December 8, 2011                                                                                             

Westlane Secondary Launches Green Energy Initiative 

Students at Westlane Secondary are all charged up about the school’s new renewable energy system, which officially came on-line December 6.

The system, expected to produce four kilowatts of power, will also provide students with a tremendous learning opportunity. “What makes this initiative unique is that our solar panels will not be tied into the provincial grid. This will allow students to get a truly hands-on learning experience by examining, rebuilding and re-engineering the system as time goes on,” said Roy Smith, Westlane’s SHSM - Energy Teacher.

Currently the system is being used to charge batteries and the class’s cordless drills, but Smith expects that students soon make better use of the system by developing a range of interesting projects. “We’re very excited about this initiative. Being able to get hands on learning experience with this system will be a huge benefit to students as they work towards postsecondary studies,” said Smith.

The solar panel initiative is the result of a partnership between the school, the DSBN and Rankin Renewable Power. Rankin Project Manager Jordan Beekhuis said students will learn about the issues that professionals are grappling with. “Renewable power doesn’t operate all the time. It operates when the resource, wind and solar, are available. As renewable energy makes up an increasing percentage of the province’s energy mix, we have to think about ways that we can accommodate that variable power, either by changing when we use it, or by storing it. To begin, we’re showing students a variety of different storage options so they can see what’s available,” says Beekhuis.

Both Smith and Beekhuis agreed that the energy sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and will hold many opportunities for students in the future.