Last year, we reported on six startups based in British Columbia involved in solar technology or innovation.
These startups included Vancouver’s Nexii Building Solutions, Burnaby’s Hedgehog Technologies, and Daanaa Resolution, a hatchling of UBC’s Accelerator Ventures.
In 2023, regional firms continue to use cutting-edge solar advancements in innovative ways to push the boundaries of what solar can accomplish in Canada.
Let’s take a look at some recent examples below.
Solar Tech Helps Hunt Ghost Ships
A Victoria technology upstart is making waves as it arms the Canadian Coast Guard with technology designed to track and monitor the issue of abandoned boats across British Columbia waters.
Barnacle Systems’ “Rapid Deploy” devices combat this rising environmental and navigational hazard. These devices, positioned on identified vessels, grant a coast guard the ability to remotely monitor ghost ships, issuing notifications if a vessel begins to sink, drag anchor, or is influenced by weather conditions or intruders.
Real-time status updates and alerts drastically enhance the Coast Guard’s ability to respond to high-priority areas, according to Barnacle CEO Brandon Wright.
He said there are nearly 3,000 abandoned or wrecked vessels in Canadian waters, with a majority in BC.
“It’s an overwhelming number,” the chief executive told Victoria Times Colonist, adding that “the average size of these boats is 65 feet long.”
Canada’s coast guard acquired more than three dozen units from Barnacle for a total cost of just over $500,000, which includes one year of cellular and satellite service as well as remote training and support from the company.
Deceptively compact, the 15-kilogram Rapid Deploy units are sized and shaped like small wheeled luggage. They house GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and critical solar technology.
The coast guard hopes to clean up Canada’s waters using this Vancouver Island company’s innovation.
Solar-Powered, Weather-Proof Surveillance
MaxLab.io is innovating the hardware space with specially designed technology.
The company has developed a solar-powered and waterproof camera that is ideal for monitoring roofs in all conditions or remote areas.
Armoured with UV-resistant plastic for year-round durability, the camera can sustain on a single battery charge for up to nine months before recharging itself with an onboard solar panel.
“We are a turnkey product design company with a strong focus on in-house hardware and software development,” the company, with offices in Edmonton and Vancouver, says. “We design, develop, manufacture, and deliver your devices while you can focus on the essential part of your business—the product itself.”
The latest innovation from MaxLab.io is a module boosted by artificial intelligence and open-source technology.
The AI camera has many use cases—MaxLab cites wildlife monitoring, agriculture detection, and robotics integration potential, among other possibilities—and thus it is a product the company is looking to commercialize.
The trio was long destined for a career in tech—”While still studying at university, we already worked for tech companies and at the same time, started doing our own projects before graduating from school,” the founders recall.
Solar-Fuelled Living in the Sky
New developments in BC are beginning to take advantage of alternative energy opportunities such as solar capture.
A seven-story residential building in West Vancouver is equipped with four dozen solar panels, which combine to generate up to 23,000 kilowatt hours of electric power annually for the condo’s dwellers.
This is enough to meet half of the building’s plug-load, according to Kenneth Chan for the Daily Hive blog.
The systems of heating, cooling, and battery-electric car charging are powered through the solar arrays of the building, he says, which are situated atop the roof as well as on the south side of the structure via a “solar mast” integrated within the exterior architecture.
Perhaps the coolest feature is that residents of Courtney on Burfield Place can observe real-time performance of their building’s solar grid on a screen in the lobby.