SkyFire’s vision is to bring the magic of solar to the world for a stronger, healthier and more sustainable global community. As part of this grand vision, we would like to inspire you by sharing stories of local green heroes in your communities. The “Faces of Renewable Energy” series shines a light on the difference renewable energy is making in people’s lives across Western Canada. We showcase SkyFire team members, customers, and community partners.
Meet Trevor DeHaan, General Manager at SkyFire Edmonton! Trevor shares how he got his start in the renewable energy sector, what the magic of solar means to him, what he has gained by working in renewable energy and where he believes the renewable energy industry is going in Alberta.
How did you get your start in the renewable energy industry?
Gardening. I was working with a landscaping company and I had a customer which I was building a large pond/waterfall for on their acreage. The customer asked for the pond to be powered without trenching a power line out to the pond. Solar came into the picture. I researched and educated myself in stand-alone solar PV applications and fumbled my way through installing a battery based solar powered pond. I was in awe when it was up and running… the water flowed, filters hummed, and small pond lights glowed all with the power of the sun! “Look Ma, no cords!”
When I looked into the possibilities of a career in solar, I discovered that there was no easily accessible training for me. I decided to make the commitment, traveling to and from Ontario and became a certified Photovoltaic Technician in 2008. After my certification I started with Conergy; largest global solar distributor at the time. The rest is history.
How did you come to work for SkyFire?
I had known SkyFire for some time prior to my employment with them. I sold the product to them when I was in distribution, partnering on past projects, net-zero builds, etc. One of my contracts was coming to an end and SkyFire approached me, asking if I would be interested in heading up the new Edmonton location. I had a great deal of respect for SkyFire leadership and the quality of their work. I thought of them as having the most industry knowledge in Western Canada, so I was very eager to say yes.
What have you gained by working in the renewable energy industry?
Pride in my career, saving the world one solar module at a time, proudly advancing the energy industry and being on the edge of something ‘new’. A deep respect for the passion that our Canadian pioneer solar PV companies have in their industry.
What difference do you believe the solar industry is making in Alberta?
Diversification. Alberta has always struggled with diversifying its energy market. Now it is companies like SkyFire and leading tech firms that are breaking the barriers leading us to a more energy diverse province. Solar is a huge player in this diversification bringing the average homeowner into the mix and providing them with the ability to be part of the growing change. Solar is also pioneering a new mindset in the province.
Please share a customer story that was particularly meaningful to you.
A few years back we were approached with a challenge of creating Canada’s largest solar BIPV wall; ten stories tall and a block wide. It was a huge undertaking and there were many challenges along the way, but the developer and SkyFire worked very well together to design, build, and commission a beautiful piece of energy producing art! This project showcased what can be done when people with passion get together to create something that was not designed for economics or for the glory, but just because it felt like it was the right thing to do for future generations.
Branch off of our Vision Statement – To bring the magic of solar to the world for a stronger, healthier and more sustainable global community. What does the magic of solar mean to you?
To me it is the kid like twinkle of excitement in the eyes of our customer as they turn on their solar PV system for the first time, see the energy flowing and their meter turning backward…. That is magic.
Handing over the keys to a solar-powered net-zero home, providing less annual utilities to a Habitat for Humanity family … that is magic. Combining solar with other technologies to create a more efficient and sustainable community…. That is magic.
Where do you think the renewable energy industry is going?
The fight against renewables will disappear as exponential thinkers in the country continually look at what is next and Greentech becomes the norm. Not looking years from now, but looking at tomorrow.
Steve Jobs once said that “every household will have a computer”, which provides me a notion that one day every household will have energy harnessing from the sun. This also means new regulations, codes, and forward thinking creating more demand, jobs, and real changes.
Solar is still in pioneering stages, and if the reason government bodies believe people will not invest in solar is that the initial costs are “too high”, then we would not have personal computers today, as the first personal computers cost thousands of dollars. You would not be reading this as you are.
In 1963 the largest solar array in the world was 242 watts and cost an unreal amount. Today we are supplying 6000 Watt systems to average households for a price they can afford. So where is the renewable energy industry going? It is just the beginning of the future pallet of energy.