On Thursday, February 7th, Red Deer College had the grand opening of its alternative energy lab. The components of the lab include a combined heat and power system, and 4,190 solar panels that power an estimated 23% of the annual electricity needs of RDC.

The lab features equipment and trainers that replicate the systems that run RDC’s alternative energy components that students and staff can run and experiment on.

“It was designed from day one to be a flexible space so that as technology emerges and evolves, we will be able to make that adaptation within the space. All the trainers that are here are portable in design so that we can adjust them. It’s an open space so that as innovators come along with new ideas for technology it’s a place where we can help them to research and study that,” said Joel Gingrich, Dean of RDC’s school of trades and technology.

An estimated 1,000 students will benefit from the new lab from a variety of disciplines.

The alternative energy initiative supports RDC’s goal of being carbon neutral in five years and there will be more projects to come to help reach that goal. Right now, the college is 25% on its way to its goal.

“We are the largest installation of solar panels in the country. By that, I mean, not the ones that are farms on the ground, but on any building or any institution. We didn’t realize that we just found that out. It’s really important that we set an example. If we’re going to be teaching about environmentalism if we’re going to be teaching about alternative energy we have to be in that space. We have to demonstrate it and we have to show that it works,” said Joel Ward, RDC President, and CEO.

Red Deer College’s alternative energy initiative is also benefiting Red Deer’s Canada Winter Games with the use of the solar panels on the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Red Deer’s Winter Games will be the most environmentally sustainable games in the history of the event partially due to the work done by RDC.

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