Exploring wind and solar power: Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre


The Operations Workplace Centres (OWC) Program includes several environmental sustainability initiatives.

A three-phase project began in fall 2012 on the Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre site to explore options to harness the power of the wind and sun on City of Calgary work sites. The first step in bringing renewable energy to the Bearspaw OWC site is to conduct wind and solar power studies. It may be possible to offset up to 25 per cent of the electricity currently being used on the Bearspaw OWC site with renewable energy.

Solar power

A project to explore the possibility of introducing solar power at the Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre began in summer 2013. The solar project is divided into the structural assessment, and the design, permitting and installation phases.

The structural assessment phase, which is meant to assess the structural capacity of the roof where the panels will be placed, was completed in late 2013. Based on the findings from this phase and other solar and wind data, a large (50 KW) solar power system is being installed on the roof of one of the storage buildings at Bearspaw OWC in late spring 2014.

The system will be the largest solar installation on a City site to date and is expected to produce enough energy to offset 14 per cent of the power currently used at Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre.

Wind power

The Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre (OWC) wind assessment began in fall 2012 and will continue until 2015. The wind assessment involves analyzing the direction and amount of wind on site and could lead to a recommendation on the type of turbine that could potentially be placed at Bearspaw OWC if wind conditions are good. Wind information is gathered by putting up a temporary mast  with measurement instruments. The Bearspaw Operations Workplace Centre wind assessment consists of the following steps:

  • Place a temporary mast on the Bearspaw OWC site. The mast is 25 metres (70 feet) tall and has measurement instruments (two anemometers). The mast was placed on site in November 2012.
  • Collect and analyze wind information for one year or more. This is done by the University of Calgary's research team. The data collected answers questions such as: What is the wind speed? What is the main direction the wind is coming from? Is the wind consistent? What is the average wind speed for the study area?
  • Complete a final report. The report answers questions such as: Can a small wind turbine on the site generate enough electricity to significantly offset electricity usage on site?

Project partners for the Bearspaw wind and solar projects

  • The Facility Management business unit at The City of Calgary is leading the project.
  • Funding for the wind and solar assessments is provided in part by The City of Calgary’s Sustainable Building Partnership Program, a program funded by Alberta Municipal Affairs' Municipal Sustainability Initiative. This program is led by the Infrastructure & Information Services business unit at The City of Calgary.
  • Through existing agreements, equipment and technical expertise are provided by ENMAX and The University of Calgary.

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