After spending 25 years in the automotive industry, German engineer Klaus Dohring said that he was fired from his executive position in January 2008 over a personality conflict.
“I had just turned 50 at the time. I was determined that I would never be fired again,” said Dohring. “So basically, at the tender age of 50 years old, I started in an industry that did not exist.”
Dohring launched Green Sun Rising later that year, a renewable energy company based out of Windsor, Ont. The company has designed, developed and supplied over 300 solar systems for clients throughout the nation.
“I figured that in solar energy, I could make the biggest difference. I started a company and then a year later, good fortune had me meet a senior industrialist who let us rent a big factory,” said Dohring. “We took an old and shuttered automotive factory and renovated it into the Renewable Energy Technology Center.”
According to Dohring, the company has implemented 19 solar system projects in remote Northern communities throughout the NWT and Nunavut.
Territorial projects completed by the company are found in communities such as Colville Lake, Behchokǫ̀, Sachs Harbour, Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik and more.
“This has become not only a nice niche, but the majority of the work we’re involved with today,” said Dohring.
Renewable energy is an “absolute must in the future,” he said.
“There are no two ways about it. When you look at climate change, when you look at all the data, the carbon dioxide build up, its very, very clear that we need to decarbonize everything we do,” he said.
He highlighted the solar system panel that the company installed on the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk building, which is able to produce up to 141 kilowatts hours of electricity in one day.
“That’s 40 litres of diesel in that one day did not have to go through the diesel generator, a whole vehicle tank full,” he said.
Rather than complaining about issues related to climate change, he said that the focus is on being part of the solution.
“We have been doing this for 11 years. We were founded before the Green Energy Act. We are not doing this opportunistically,” he said. “We are doing it because every one of us is deeply convinced that this is part of the solution. I’m tired of looking at the problem case.”
Dohring will be representing Green Sun Rising at Inuvik’s Arctic Development Expo from June 10 to 12. This is his fourth year participating in the expo, and he’s featured as one of the speakers for the “Innovation in Action: Energy & Infrastructure” discussion on June 11.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for local government, territorial government and municipal people to come together and learn what different projects have been done, and learn what they possibly can do,” he said. “Overall, I’m very positive. I’m positive towards the conference, in particular with a shift towards energy and emerging technologies.”
A greater appreciation for solar energy, he continued, can only be strengthened through support from the government.
“We need political support. But in the end, I know that the residents want it. I know that humanity will eventually want it, because humanity needs it,” he said.