In southern Ontario, the Niagara Region has joined the Ontario Clean Technology Alliance (OCTA), an organization with representation in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Waterloo Region, Windsor-Essex, London, Sarnia-Lambton, Chatham-Kent, and Guelph. In a continuing cross-border exchange of technology learned in solar panel workshops and photovoltaic (PV) certification courses, alliance members were promoting Southern Ontario in Phoenix, Ariz. as a green-energy hub at the Energy, Utility, and Environment Conference EUEC 2011. “We’re looking at it as a very cost-effective way of getting Niagara’s name out there,” said Alan Teichroeb, VP of Business Planning for the Niagara Economic Development Corp (NEDC). ”When you’re marketing beyond the borders of your country, it’s particularly important to create alliances and partnerships.”
Municipal economic renewal efforts are part of many initiatives taken by the private sector in the region to encourage clean energy and green economics. The rooftop at the 20 Bees Winery on Niagara Stone Road will have a different look come this spring when it becomes the new home for a 109-kilowatt solar energy system. Enfinity, a global renewable energy company, will lease the rooftop space. “Enfinity approached us about doing it and we’re very excited about it,” said Matt Dixon, Brand Manager for Diamond Estates, owner of the winery. ”We think this is a great way to get alternative energy,” he said. ”It benefits us; it benefits the community because everything goes back into the grid.”
PV Certification Course: Road to Entrepreneurship
Many Niagara residents have started attending solar panel workshops and PV certification classes to prepare themselves for renewable energy careers in the province. After taking PV design and installation training at Ontario Solar Academy, Niagara construction consultant and electrical contractor, Luciano Di Leonardo, started two new companies: SolarHarvest Power Corporation Ltd. and SunHarvest Solar. Similar examples of solar-powered entrepreneurship exist throughout the province as residents and business owners alike embrace the economic potential of photovoltaic technology.
Niagara’s political and business gurus recently erected signs along the QEW calling Niagara the “Green Energy Capital of Ontario.” Renewable energy careers will grow alongside grapes in the vineyards of solar panel workshops. They will be the new wine served at the clean energy table. It is a sweet and intoxicating prospect.