GFM Network News


Part of a 36-panel array in Athabasca County expected to produce 16,100 kilowatt hours annually. Fixed panels and a grid-tied system are recommended by the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, whose rural workshops continue to attract large numbers of producers.

Interest in solar remains strong, but subsidies in doubt

It’s not clear whether the new government will axe subsidies, but producers still drawn to solar workshops

Are provincial subsidies for on-farm grid-tied solar projects dead? And if they are dead, does that mean solar and other renewable energy projects have gone the way of the dodo as well? It would be hard to fault anyone for answering ‘Yes’ to both questions. While on the campaign trail in February, now-premier, Jason Kenney […] Read more



Family of goat lovers lives off the grid

Family uses mainly solar power and a wind turbine while raising goats, free-range chickens, turkeys, geese, and hogs

Kids abound at Will O’ the Wisp Paddocks. Amy Leitch and husband Kevin have four of their own, along with numerous goat kids in their flock of 77 goats. “We chose Kiko goats which are from New Zealand. They’re bred from the best of the best and this is a breed that is known worldwide,” […] Read more

The first step in finding a solar contractor is to check the PV installers directory of the Solar Energy Society of Alberta, which includes info on how long they’ve been in business and what types of systems they’ve installed.

Watch out for yourself in solar land

If you’re looking for a solar contractor, there’s no shortage of them. And that can be a problem. Thanks in part to large-scale incentives by the provincial government to boost use of solar energy, the number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers has doubled over the past two years — 223 are listed on the Solar […] Read more


There are a host of factors to consider before deciding on a solar photovoltaic system, says Erika Grintals of Solar Optix Energy Services, pictured here next to a 170.2-kW system using bi-facial modules installed at 
G + C Farms in Bow Island.

The sun doesn’t always shine on every solar project

It’s a good time to install a solar system, but you need to consider many factors before plunging in

If you’re a producer who has recently decided to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) array on your farm or ranch, your timing is right. Under the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry On-Farm Solar Voltaics Program, the provincial government is offering to cover up to 35 per cent of costs for producers building on-farm, grid-tied solar systems. […] Read more

The 200-kilowatt array on Nelson Family Ranches is big enough to supply electricity to both its feedlot operation and irrigation pivots.

Government cash makes it a sunny day for solar power

Growing Forward 2 has put extra dollars on the table, but they’re expected 
to be snapped up in a hurry

If you want to get into solar, there’s now more government cash on the table — but you’ll have to hurry. The On-Farm Solar Photovoltaics Program now offers 75 cents per watt for projects of 100 kilowatts or less, and 56 cents per watt for installations that are between 100 and 150 watts. Both have […] Read more


When the herd is a province away, you need reliable water

Beiseker rancher has solar waterer for 100 cow-calf pairs he grazes across the Saskatchewan border

The phrase ‘remote watering’ takes on a new meaning on Duane Kent’s farm. Kent lives in Beiseker (northeast of Calgary) but also has a four-quarter pasture more than 500 kilometres away in Biggar, Sask. The site has no natural surface water and it would cost $30,000 to bring in electrical power. So he relies on […] Read more

This array on Merlinds Farms is the first large-scale solar system in the province used to power irrigation pivots.

Solar-powered irrigation proving its worth for Alberta operation

Cory and Lindsay Nelson are the first in the province to use solar for large-scale irrigation — and they’re happy they did

Cory and Lindsay Nelson have always embraced innovation and after attending a talk on solar energy put on by a producer group, their interest was piqued. So the brothers approached Enmax and a Lethbridge solar installation company called Solar Optix to look at their electrical bills. The numbers seemed to pan out, and it looked […] Read more


A small-scale model of a Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation system.

It’s a drag — but one that saves water, cuts costs, and reduces disease

Mobile drip irrigation is pricey but worth the money for high-value crops such as alfalfa seed production or to reduce disease issues

Converting to mobile drip irrigation could be financially beneficial for some growers. Along with more efficient water delivery and lower energy costs, this system can improve crop health by reducing leaf burn and disease issues. Mobile drip uses specially designed drip lines that drag on the ground and deliver water directly to crops to reduce […] Read more

Small ‘tie-in’ solar installations, like this one in Gladstone Valley, 
are popping up across Alberta.

Alberta producers asking big questions about solar power

There’s huge interest in this technology and issues such as payback, 
fixed costs, and government programs are top of mind

There’s no doubt that the government of Alberta is betting big on renewable energy. The goal is to get 30 per cent of Alberta’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and it earmarked $5.5 million last year to help farms and municipalities develop solar power projects. With that kind of big money comes big […] Read more