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December 14, 2015

Canadian Athletes And Solar Generation Tested To Their Limits

Soaring at 8900 ft. above the Turbine Canyon in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis Alberta is the high performance training facility owned and operated by WinSport Canada.

WinSport Canada’s facility known as the Beckie Scott Training Centre is a temporary home to Canadian Athlete’s training for World Cup or Olympic Nordic Skiing competitions. Athletes use the specially designed camp as a home base during the months of May to August. This glacial training camp allows a unique opportunity for Canadian Athletes to train on snow through the summer months. Not only is it an advantage to train on snow through the summer, but considering the camp is at altitude it also provides them with a competitive edge.

For Athletes wanting to train at the Beckie Scott Training centre their journey begins with a 6 to 8 hour hike from the Upper Kananaskis lake trail to the foot of the Haig Glacier. This is the first test of physical endurance and commitment second only to the rigours of training on the Glacier. Training days are long and hard, and in most cases do not end on the snow. The facility is equipped with stationary bikes, stair climbers, rowing machines and other exercise equipment to offer a dynamic training environment for the Athletes.

Just like the energy that is expended through physical excursion there is also a substantial amount of energy expended on operating the camp itself. The camp relies on electricity for lights during the evening hours, to run 2 way radios for emergency response, and a multitude of devices which require power to run televisions, monitors, computers, laptops, medical and satellite equipment. The challenge with this power requirement is that the camp is remote, and cannot be tied in to local power supply due to environmental restrictions placed on the camp by the Provincial Park. The result is that the camp must be self-sustaining and must have zero-impact to the surrounding area. The only way for the camp to conform to the environmental restrictions placed on it and have much needed power at the same time was to turn to solar energy.

The camp tried a few different solar designs, but unfortunately most systems they experimented with failed to meet their requirements. Finally rising to the challenge was the BRC Group including Solarform Canada Ltd. and Solar Box Ltd. This partnership grew from the association of former WinSport Occupational Health and Safety Coordinator David Mead and the BRC Group. Mead expressed the challenges of solar generation and power requirements to BRC Group owner Bill Melnik who embraced the challenge of the Haig Glacier camp, and wished to design a system that worked for the camp.

One of the benefits of the installation for the BRC Group/Solarform Canada Ltd./Solarbox Ltd. is the harsh environment of the glacier camp. This environment is a perfect place to test the endurance and build quality of the Solarform panels that were planned for the camp. With wind-speeds topping 100kms/h on a regular basis and annual snow fall reaching depths of 1800 mm whatever panel was placed there would truly have to undergo some of the worst conditions on earth. In addition to sustained winds and snow loads, the panels would also have to endure summer seasons with greater than average solar intensity, including a large degree of reflectance from the surrounding snow and ice. All things considered this installation proves to be one of the most challenging for the solar industry, and the BRC Group/Solarform Canada Ltd./Solarbox Ltd. yet the group welcomes the opportunity to test their products alongside Canada’s top athletes.

Photo Supplied by WinSport Canada: Beckie Scott Training Centre (2) Kananaskis Alberta