We reached out to Lisa Oelke, Manager Marketing & Business Development with hb Solar, to learn more about hb Solar’s commitment to boost industry growth.

Read her interview below.


How does hb Solar see their role in the support and growth of the industry in Alberta?

hb Solar’s platform strategy is going into 7th year.   It comes down to having universal parts that can accommodate all types of rooftops.  We are looking at efficiencies in terms of cost structure, manufacturing, design to extrude one common rail for all roofs whether they be flat, flush metal roof or tilted roof.  This enables us to contribute to the province with job opportunities and overall solar deployment in Alberta.

We have also signed an agreement with SunLink out of the US (who bring over 1GW installed base experience to Canada) to distribute their Ground Mount products in Canada.  This relationship has expanded hb Solar’s portfolio with GeoPro and TechTrack technologies to offer top of the line ground mount capabilities and increase available work through new projects.


hb Solar has supported solar initiatives in developing countries including the SMILE project in Tanzania.   How have these initiatives strengthened hb’s company culture?

hb Solar stood solidly behind me when I initiated the Solar Majengo in Lights & Electricity project (SMILE) back in 2013.  They donated $1000.00 and assisted with rooftop design work. They also encouraged my commitment to this two-year labour of love that saw more than 500 hours of volunteer time donated and $50,000 raised for a 6kw off-grid project to benefit orphan children.   The Solar Majengo project is to be completed in September 2016. Their support and encouragement is exemplary of how employees are encouraged to pursue visions and continue to work well together to promote renewables internationally.

Additionally, we know how to collaborate and have fun internally and I have many good stories to tell.


We would love to hear one of these stories

We had one of our employees turn 50, the first in our company to do so, and we collectively brain stormed on what we could do to make it memorable. This particular employee is quite organized and particular about their workspace environment.  We proceeded to treat the employees desk like a pub bar and empty stationary supplies from their containers onto the desk, cracked nuts and left shells everywhere, co-workers sitting on his desk with beer and bottles left behind and turned his lamp shade upside down and a few other things.  We snapped pictures along the way and then threw him a surprise party with his favorite food and set up a slide show with all the pictures so he could see how we had decimated his workspace.  We made him laugh.  And no, we did not leave the mess for him to clean up.  There was only photo evidence.


Why is hb Solar such a major supporter of CanSIA?

Without the work that CanSIA has done we would not see the growth and continued support of people advocating for solar as being a very viable solution.

Getting close to grid parity has not been done by accident. There has been a lot of hard labour, hours spent and resources developed. hb has supported CanSIA all the way through tabletop sponsorship, exhibiting at all conferences, sponsorship, including attending summer solstice for four consecutive years. We engage in CanSIA promo via our social networks whenever we can. 

The recognition they offer through the Game Changer Awards Gala being able to drive and elevate people who contribute to the sector in Ontario and Canada has benefited HB Solar and we see a very strong partnership between us.


You are on the advisory board for Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE).  Why do you recommend joining WIRE?

My role with WIRE is marketing and new chapter expansion including Alberta, Quebec and Canada East.

WIRE is mandated to increase opportunities and elevate the role of women in renewables.  One of the unique benefits are the monthly educational field trips that are offered.  These are open to men and women to participate in education and awareness about some of the different components of the industry including wind farms, rooftops and solar module manufacturers.   Our most recent sold out field trip was to Hydrostor Inc’s.Toronto Island facility where they demonstrated how the world’s first underwater compressed air energy storage (UCAES) system works. 

WIRE offers a fast track for people to get to know the different technologies.  Since women make up a much smaller percentage of the Renewable Energy work force, we saw an opportunity to create a model of inclusion. WiRE provides bursaries for students and there are annual awards including, Women of Distinction in Solar, Wind and Water Power.  They facilitate industry event access for events such as APPRO and Solar Canada.    There are also monthly networking and educational meet ups with guest speakers.   WIRE currently has a monthly newsletter industry readership of 1100.