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Make solar a must in new buildings: Dauncey

At the B.C. Solar Summit today, Guy Dauncey of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association said the provincial government needs to "get with the game" when it comes to solar thermal development.

According to Natural Resources Canada, there are currently fewer than 500 solar hot-water systems in British Columbia. These systems can supply up to 60 per cent of a home's hot water needs and cut energy costs by about $300 per year.

Dauncey recited a list of recommendations to boost solar hot water installation in the province. He said these systems should be a requirement for new buildings and individuals should receive a 100 per cent tax credit towards them. Dauncey also called for standardized training for solar installation in colleges and apprenticeship programs.

Ole Pilgaard, CEO of a U.S. solar hot water firm, said political initiatives have been the main driver of solar hot water development in Europe.

"You just don't build a house in Austria without considering solar thermal today," he said.

David Kelly, president of Calgary renewable energy firm Sedmek Inc., said a market for solar hot-water systems could create thousands of manufacturing jobs in Canada.

"It's about jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "There are 250,000 jobs in the renewable field in Germany today. But until we develop the market, there's no point in manufacturing."

Today Dauncey also announced that Whistler would be the seventh so-called solar community in British Columbia (and he pointed out that mayor Ken Melamed is leading by example with a solar hot water system on his home.)

Six solar communities were named last year, including Kelowna, Tofino and Dawson Creek. Each city or district received $20,000 from the ministry of energy, mines and petroleum resources to support solar hot water projects. That funding was part of a $5 million provincial investment in the SolarBC program, which was launched by the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association with the goal of building 100,000 solar roofs in the province by 2020.

Colleen Kimmett writes on environmental issues for The Tyee.

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