New Brunswick

Largest solar panel installation in province sits atop Fredericton school

Panels mounted on the roof of Fredericton High School will generate 118,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year and cost about $543,000 to get up and running, the government says.

Project at Fredericton High School expected to generate 118,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year

The solar panels at Fredericton High School will cost about $543,000 to get up and running. (CBC)

Talk about higher learning.

The province is using the roof of Fredericton High School as a pilot project to see how well solar power works in New Brunswick's climate. It's a 100-kilowatt solar panel project and once it's finished, the project will be the province's largest solar panel installation.

The panels mounted on the roof of the high school will generate around 118,000 kilowatt hours of energy per year and cost about $543,000 to get up and running.

"We're going to evaluate the solar panels on the school in terms of the efficiency that it's going to provide," said Bill Fraser, minister of transportation and Infrastructure. 

The energy that's produced from the panels will first be consumed by the high school and any excess will be put back into the NB Power grid, he said.

This will allow students to learn about energy grids, solar lighting and a greener economy. It will also benefit the environment.

"This also provides an education component … so students at the high school can learn about energy efficiency," Fraser said.

Greener economy

Last December, the province adopted a climate change plan. Some of its actions included the incorporation of energy efficiency policies for government-owned buildings in the province. This includes efficient lighting and heating systems.

"The big challenge that we're faced in our province and other jurisdictions is climate change," Fraser said.

If the project is successful, it will be rolled out in other buildings across New Brunswick.

Many projects underway

Fraser said a number of energy-efficiency projects are underway. The province already has two electric school buses and is also looking for more electric vehicles. He said there are also 15 e-charging stations, where people can charge their electric vehicles in 15 to 20 minutes.

Wood pellet furnaces are being installed in some New Brunswick schools, he said.

If NB Power and the private sector were on board, the way would be paved for solar panels on homes and for feeding electricity back into the system after domestic consumption.

"We've seen other jurisdictions where this is happening or beginning to happen," he said.