Dandelion offices growing on the prairies

·3 min read

Dandelion Renewables, headquartered in Alberta and with an office in Maple Creek, looks to help provide the agricultural industry with new and innovative ways to be energy efficient.

Offering their services to British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, Dandelion Renewables offers primarily solar and wind energy consultations and contracts for both large and small scale projects, such as electric car charging stations.

Large projects have included work with pork and dairy producers, as well as beekeepers.

“When Alberta Pork engaged us, as we looked at the different technologies and opportunities to improve efficiency, one of the big things that had been identified is that they needed much better technology for ventilation, especially for the winter. Late winter ventilation when the fans operate at the minimum speed, can be very costly energy wise,” said Mikhail Ivanchikov, president of Dandelion Renewables. “We researched manufacturers out of Europe, who produced fans that consume significantly less energy when they run into slow speeds compared to conventional Fan manufacturers,” said Ivanchikov. “Even though these electric fans cost more money upfront; however, in terms of energy saving, you save a huge amount, especially if you have the barn designed well. With good energy efficient fans, you end up actually wasting less heat, because you don't throw too much heat outside, and you can control the barn more efficiently, making sure that the temperature is set exactly as the room requires and they don't need to heat and ventilate at the same time.”

Other improvements include radiant floor heating to offset costs, and even using the heat the animals inside produce in other areas.

“In the wintertime, bees actually produce very large amounts of heat, and that heat often needs to be ventilated. Which is exactly at the time when our society needs the heat, right? So The interesting application is, how do we integrate the bees into something more useful,” said Ivanchikov.

Dandelion Renewables had been working closely with landowners during the provincial Growing Forward program, during which they received a great deal of interest from agriculture in Southern Alberta and southeastern Saskatchewan.

However, the Growing Forward program has been cancelled for several years now, and the company has seen diminished interest.

“For the last couple years, we didn't do much work in the agricultural sector, just because there's not many programs that support these types of activities. And I guess the market conditions are maybe not favorable,” said Ivanchikov. “We’re still enjoying lower energy costs, compared to potentially where they could go,but we see escalation of many, many, many things, which would probably in the future trigger shifting to more energy efficient practices and more renewable energy in the future, hopefully with government support.”

However, with the recent announcement of the federal Agricultural Clean Technology program, which Dandelion Renewables has applied for, Ivanchikov believes that this could change soon.

“I'm working for the goal of sustainable agriculture where, you know, each producer can produce a similar amount of energy that they consume. So that they become much more resilient to the outside factors, they can control their operating costs and essentially be self sustainable,” said Ivanchikov.

Anna Smith, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prairie Post East

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