Vancouver's Great Climate Race offers organizations a chance to crowdfund solar-energy projects

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      Vancouver climate-justice activist Ben West has had great success organizing large demonstrations against pipeline projects that contribute to global warming.

      On October 30, he's encouraging residents of the region to apply a similar level of passion to promoting renewable energy.

      West is cofounder and an organizer of the Great Climate Race, which is a 10-kilometre run and 2.5-kilometre walk through Stanley Park to raise funds for a cleaner future.

      Money will go to renewable-energy initiatives to reduce B.C.'s carbon footprint.

      The race is in its second year and has been endorsed by Mayor Gregor Robertson, former federal environment minister Tom McMillan, and ultramarathoner Ellie Greenwood.

      Ben West discusses the origins of the Great Climate Race.

      Last week, the Great Climate Race announced that organizations can raise money directly for their projects through its website. One of the participants is OrcaLab, a world-renowned whale- and dolphin-monitoring station founded by biologist Paul Spong near Alert Bay.

      OrcaLab created a solar-power system in 2013 to reduce the use of gas generators. A group called Emerging Leaders for Solar Energy is backing its switch to solar energy, which has so far reduced carbon emissions by 1.5 to 2 tonnes per year.

      “We are excited to be working with ELSE to be helping to fund the transition off diesel power for OrcaLab," West said in a news release. "Not only is this good for the climate but the cost savings for the facility can help do more good work monitoring and learning about the resident orcas we all love."

      Last year's event raised nearly $35,000, which went to several projects, including a solar-power installation at the Creekside Paddling Centre in partnership with Clean Energy Canada, the City of Vancouver, and the North Growth Foundation.

      Check out some highlights from last year's race.

      According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, more than 200,000 Americans are employed in the solar-energy sector.

      One of the driving forces behind the industry's growth has been a 70 percent reduction over the past decade in the cost of installing solar energy.

      Solar installations have sharply increased in the United States as a result of tax credits and falling installation prices.