Solar Power Cutting teeth on solar power
Local business shows kids how it's done

by P.J. Harston
Northern News Services

NNSL (OCT 30/96) - Conserving energy and carving pumpkins may not have a lot in common, but don't tell the kids.

About a dozen Yellowknife youths took advantage of the latest Amazing Sunday at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to learn about the generation and conservation of energy. As a bonus, they carved pumpkins.

"Kids are more hands-on, so we figured they'd be able to learn and have some fun at the same time," said organizer Alex Hampson.

Hampson, president of Midnight Sun Energy, taught kids about her company's remote power systems.

The systems incorporate solar, wind and diesel power or combinations of the three to power homes and cabins not connected to the commercial power grid.

"There are hundreds of wind generators in use across the territories right now," said Hampson.

Although the wind was howling outside the centre Sunday afternoon, Hampson said the Yellowknife area is really not a great place to rely solely on wind power.

"A lot of it depends on location. Many of our customers along the Ingraham Trail do have wind generators, but they use them in combination with solar panels and diesel generators," she said.

Using such a system, rather than relying on diesel alone, can cut diesel-generator running times by as much as 80 per cent, which in turn could save a developer or cabin owner lots of money.

Hampson's company will visit a site, determine what the owner's needs are and then develop a system that fits those needs.

Midnight Sun Energy also manufactures some components and generators used in the systems they design.

Employing three full time staff members, her company is enjoying some success, especially in an era in which the conservation of non-renewable resources is recognized as environmentally friendly.

Amazing Sunday's organizers asked Hampson and territorial government energy expert Greg Krysko to put on the event to help celebrate national science and technology week.