140-year-old horse racetrack uses solar to cash in on green energy

Historic Dresden Raceway rents out stable roofs for 250 kilowatt solar array

Belleville (Ontario), March 29, 2016.—The board of directors for the Dresden Raceway may have won big. The historic Dresden Raceway, which has enjoyed great popularity among Ontarians since its beginnings back in the late 1880s, had been struggling financially at times to keep up its ambitious operations.

Over the years, many upgrades were added to keep the facility among one of Canada’s most rewarding harness races. Since the race season is restricted to summer months only, the Dresden Agricultural Society, which runs the raceway, started to look for ways that could add “a steady revenue stream to the operations even during the time the track was idle,” Lucille Laprise, the President of the Dresden Agricultural Society says.

With southern expose and no obstructions that would cause shading, the six horse barns were an ideal location for solar panels. But before earning money for the clean energy generated on the barn roof, the Society would have to invest in building the arrays.

“Simply renting out the space came as a turnkey solution that has been earning our non-profit organization money since mid-February,” Ms. Laprise comments. “I strongly feel that the innovative use of an existing structure to secure the preservation of our great race tradition is something the race’s founders would be proud of as well.”

The 896 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules were made just four hours east of Dresden in Belleville by Strathcona Energy International (SEI), a manufacturer of premium-quality solar modules, and installed by sister company Strathcona Solar Initiatives (SSI), a multiple award-winning solar integrator. Each year, the panels will produce over 355,405 kilowatt hours of emission-free energy, which is equal to the amount of 245 metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided and can supply close to 34 homes with electricity.

Strathcona Energy Group, the parent company of both SEI and SSI, is renting the roof space on the barns from the Agricultural Society like a tenant, and in return is selling the energy generated from the panels to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) under a 20-year FiT (Feed-in-Tariff) contract. The group’s subsidiary SSI will also be responsible for service and maintenance of the system to ensure highest productivity and optimized yield.

SSI is using a Meteocontrol WEB’log to monitor the output of the system closely for the biggest ROI possible. Combining solar panel output and satellite data, in addition to a host of other sources, the platform is one of the most thorough tools on the market to maximize revenue from solar panels.

Since SEI PV modules are built to generate positive tolerances only, the system will perform at or above its nameplate wattage in order to ensure highest solar profits.

Karl Hollett, the CEO of Strathcona Energy Group congratulates the Society in saying that “it’s a great reward for us to work with a future-oriented leadership such as the Dresden Agricultural Society that is also keen on preserving an important tradition. Solar energy can be a key asset in protecting what we value in a sustainable and responsible matter.”


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