Interest and investment in clean tech and renewable energy solutions has increased in the face of climate concerns, rising energy costs, and regulatory requirements. One company, Solaré Canada, is building on this global transition.
Founded by brothers Rik and Jay Kaminsky, Solaré Canada started as a small company offering residential solar installation and parts. As Metis business owners, the Kaminsky brothers focused on their roots to establish and grow their business, working across Alberta, with a particular focus on Indigenous communities. Within a few years, the company had grown from small residential projects to large-scale municipal and community projects, including the town of Lac La Biche, St. Albert Catholic School Board, Metis Settlements, City of Spruce Grove, Town of Stony Plain, and the Calgary Board of Education.
“It has been really great,” said Rik. “The support we’ve received, and solar energy has received, from local governments. They’re eager to adopt clean and sustainable energy.”
Throughout the growth in project size and capacity, the brothers worked hard to build a sustainable business that would support Indigenous communities around the province. Rik explains the brothers wanted to build something that could sustain communities for generations to come.
“You know, caring about where you live is important. Building support for your community and contributing to that community is important.”
Alberta’s workforce includes more Indigenous workers than anywhere else in Canada, and Solaré is helping develop that skilled workforce. The Solaré Canada team often trains residents from the communities they are working in on maintenance and installation. This provides additional opportunity within these communities and increases the talent pool that companies can draw from. Alberta’s highly skilled workforce is often a draw for international companies and investors.
“It’s a way to get the community involved and helped expose the trainees to a new trade,” shares Rik. “It increases interest for workers who may be looking for new opportunities in the energy sector.”
The Solaré Canada team is optimistic that investment and interest in solar energy will continue to grow exponentially. With changing weather patterns and gas prices climbing around the world, the company has already seen a dramatic increase in projects over the past two years. The Edmonton region sees 2,345 bright sunshine hours per year, making it one of the sunniest regions in Canada and an ideal setting for solar energy.
“You know, most people will say they think of oil and gas when they think of the energy sector in Alberta. I’d say that’s just one part of it. We have a reliable power grid, ample sunshine, and a very stable climate—no hurricanes, no tectonic activity—so we really are the ideal market for solar.”
Local governments have made it easier for residents and business owners to adopt solar power in homes and offices. Incentives such as a city rebate program to support investment in solar powered homes, energy buy-back programs throughout the province, and a federal tax provision for clean energy equipment for businesses, reduce upfront system costs and make the switch to solar even more appealing.
The Kaminsky brothers credit the company’s location as a key to its success. Situated just outside of the city of Edmonton, in Spruce Grove, Alberta, the area has easy access to road, train, and air transportation. Strong connections to the global supply chain are crucial to ensuring competitive prices and limiting logistical challenges.
While supply chain issues are not new, the current challenges are far greater than usual, and companies all over the world are feeling the effects. The Kaminsky brothers credit their Edmonton region location as the reason they are not feeling the pinch as strongly.
“We have access to everything, and that’s one of the little things that people take for granted, like the airport with a FedEx terminal. We are seven days from everywhere,” Rik adds.
Logistics aren’t the only consideration for Solaré’s founders, though. Rik explains it’s difficult to pinpoint one single factor that keeps their business in the region because it’s the way all elements work together.
“Other cities hang their hats on one thing, and that’s what they talk about. But with the Edmonton region, it’s a combination of all the things that make doing business here better. The way each municipality in the region works together, and the organizations in the region that help support businesses.”