Egenolf family makes sunny business venture

John and Angelika Egenolf own Green Biomass and Solar Energy Solutions and operate from an off-grid farm near Smithers.

A renewable energy business has sprouted in the Bulkley Valley and the owners are also clients.

John and Angelika Egenolf own Green Biomass and Solar Energy Solutions and operate from an off-grid farm near Smithers.

The couple, along with sons, Michael and Markus, moved from Germany to Canada in 2007 and the family hopes people and businesses realize there are options to conventional power sources.

“We are relatively new to the area but the technology we’re promoting isn’t new at all,” Egenolf said while looking at both his biomass and oil generators.

“We power our entire farm with a mixture of solar power and a vegetable oil generator and that power is stored in batteries.”

Egenolf actually brought a more than 100-year-old proven method to the area.

In 1900, inventor Rudolf Diesel showed a diesel engine could run on peanut oil, according to centreforenergy.com.

Egenolf wonders why people haven’t made the switch, which he says is a fairly simple process.

“There is only a hand-full of renewable energy homes in the northwest that I know of,” Egenolf said.

“Once we set up panels and the generator all we had to do was cut the power lines.”

A branch of his business that is under development is the biomass power manufacturing system, which turns wood chips into gaseous fuel and can also provide heat.

“This was popular in the 1980s, especially in Europe,” Egenolf said.

“Since the early 2000s these gasification systems have risen in popularity, but mostly for large-scale operations.”

The wood chip-biomass system is fairly complex, but Egenolf is confident anyone can run it, once installed.

“In the old days these biomass systems required a knowledgable operator,” he said.

“Now it is mainly regulated by computer.”

What sets Egenolf biomass systems apart is the ability to run completely off-grid, should a client require that option.

“This will be for remote homesteads,” he said.

“The machine would run 24/7, but we are still in the development stages on this.”

An available facet of GBSES is a portable solar panel-biofuel system.

This, Egenolf hopes, will become preferable to the diesel generators used by remote power sources used currently by industry.

“We are working on a lightweight version that will be helicopter transportable,” Egenolf said.