A ribbon is cut at the RDC Alternative Energy Lab opening on Thursday. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

A ribbon is cut at the RDC Alternative Energy Lab opening on Thursday. Robin Grant/Red Deer Express

New Alternative Energy Lab unveiled at Red Deer College

About 1,000 RDC students will learn about sustainable and renewable resource technology each year

Solar power, waste-to-energy and storing renewable energy in batteries are the emerging energy technologies students can learn about in a new lab at Red Deer College (RDC).

RDC unveiled its Alternative Energy Lab on Thursday as part of its Alternative Energy Initiative, which promotes the development and use of sustainable energy and renewable resources at the College.

“This lab, along with all of the other alternative energy projects we have undertaken across our College over the past few years, makes RDC a post-secondary leader in alternative energy and innovation,” said President and CEO Joel Ward.

“We are providing opportunities for our students to get applied learning experiences with alternative energy systems, and we’re also a hub for learning, demonstration and research with our business and industry partners.”

Roughly 1,000 students studying in programs, such as Engineering Technologies, Electrician, Instrumentation and Control Technician and Carpentry, will make use of the lab each year.

“There are all kinds of new technology in solar power that people aren’t aware of,” Ward said. “For example, if you have blinds in your house, there are solar strips in them that will not only keep the sun out of your home to keep your home cool, but they will also create, capture and store energy.”

Mirrored technology is also an important feature of the new lab, where equipment replicates and simulates the alternative energy units RDC has installed on its campus.

As part of this technology, the rooftop solar panels on the lab, which come in different configurations, will allow students to learn by “replicating real-world conditions,” reads an RDC press release.

“We’re having an impact by becoming more energy efficient and sustainable as an organization,” Ward said in the press release. “Through our new lab, we’re also having an impact by providing teaching and learning opportunities that will help our students and industry partners to be knowledgeable about the technology that’s available today, as they create technology that’s needed for the future.”

With the goal of becoming carbon-neutral in five years, the College is 25 per cent of the way there, he added.

As part of its shift to renewable energy, RDC has installed 4,190 solar panels across the main campus.

The College estimates that 23 per cent of its annual electricity needs are generated from solar power. It has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by almost 1,100 tonnes per year.