Published 2021-11-05 by Glenn Hicks
Locally founded company behind space-age tower in Rutland
- Solar generation that goes upward not outward
- Land is not taken up with ground-mounted solar panels
- Company says reflective light can also be harnessed from snowpack or lakes
Something sprouted up recently in the agricultural area near the top of McCurdy Road in Rutland.
It loves the sun, doesn’t need to be watered, and gives plenty back.
“We call it a solar tower,” Three Sixty Solar CEO Brian Roth told Kelowna10. “Instead of using all the land that ground-mount solar would traditionally use, we’re using a tiny fraction of that footprint and making the solar go up instead of out.”
He said that means far more land remains available for farming, housing, or other uses.
And this particular technology has very local roots.
“Peter Sherba, with Krueger Electrical [in Kelowna], is the founder of the company, and we’re working together as we grow through commercialization,” Roth added.
“We’re seeing customers from farmers to wineries – certainly in the Okanagan – they have a substantial interest in utilizing their land for things other than solar panels sitting on the ground,” Roth explained, noting these customers have high power requirements that need to be met.
The solar tower that’s gone up for a landowner in Rutland is what Roth described as a 60-foot mid-range model, with thirteen rows featuring a total of 78 solar panels on the east, south and western sides of the structure. The customer will use the power for several greenhouses and other farming activities.
Three Sixty Solar has a larger model which reaches 80-feet and has 153 panels.
The company says their solar towers not only maximize energy-gaining exposure by following the east to west arc of the sun, but can also take advantage of energy coming from below.
“There’s a lot of reflective energy that bounces off the ground, off snowpack in the winter, and lakes. We’re making sure to capture all of that as well” he said.
The technology may start to grow across the Okanagan with Roth saying a number of partners are looking to scale things up. Property developers for example could use many of these towers to generate the power needs of a large new community.
Also, the company has interest from remote communities in Canada and the United States where diesel for generators is having to be flown in. Roth said those communities now have an option to be environmentally cleaner, as do people who live in tight spots such as on the side of a mountain or on the ocean.
“With the small footprint of each tower customers are able to clean up [their energy needs] in challenging environments where they don’t have the land to put enough ground-mount solar panels to satisfy their demands.”