Inuvik Community Greenhouse adds solar power to its hydroponics unit

Inuvik’s greenhouse continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the Arctic. Now, the society has secured solar panels to power the unit during the brighter parts of the year. “We had planned to do that this summer, but with changing locations it was delayed,” said Inuvik Greenhouse Society chairperson Peter Clarkson. “It was always the plan to offset the electricity costs that are happening with the hydroponics facility because that’s by far the largest cost in running it.

“We will have had one year without the solar panels, and then we’ll go a full year with the solar panels.” He said the society was able to get the panels as part of its funding for the project, which has a two-year window to determine if the trailer can work economically.

With the panels, the greenhouse society is hoping to be able to bank kilowatt-hours and sell excess power back to Northwest Territories Power Corporation, which is used as credit for the dark months from October to March. Clarkson said the greenhouse was the last place to get approval for solar panels for ‘net metering’ before NTPC put a halt on how many buildings could connect solar panels to the grid.

Moving the hydroponics unit to solar won’t affect the operations of the unit at all, he added, noting the system is still connected to the power grid and has a solid workflow currently organized. “It’ll feed into the hydroponics facility first, then if we need to pull off the grid we’ll pull off the grid,” said Clarkson. “In the summer months when we’re getting lots of solar it will hopefully feed back into the grid and we’ll get a credit on that.”

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