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New micro grid will help offset diesel at Gull Bay First Nation

 New micro grid will help offset diesel at Gull Bay First Nation

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3/23/2018      

 

​In northwestern Ontario, OPG is working with the Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek (KZA), also known as Gull Bay First Nation, to build a new renewable micro grid that will help reduce the remote community’s dependence on diesel generation.

The ground-breaking micro grid project, which is OPG’s first, will utilize solar panels, lithium-ion batteries for storage, and a control system to help the community offset its diesel usage by more than 100,000 litres per year – 25 per cent of current consumption.

Located on the western shore of Lake Nipigon, KZA has an on-reserve population of about 300 people who currently rely on diesel generators to provide all of their electricity. It is one of four remote First Nation communities that the Independent Electricity System Operator has determined cannot currently be connected economically to the provincial grid.

OPG is co-developing a renewable energy-storage micro grid with the Gull Bay First Nation in northwestern Ontario.
OPG is co-developing a renewable energy-storage micro grid with the Gull Bay First Nation in northwestern Ontario.

​“The Gull Bay project will demonstrate the benefits of integrating renewables in a small off-grid distribution system, reduce reliance on diesel and its associated negative health and environmental effects, and promote local economic development,” said Rosalie Ahlan, Senior Advisor Business Development with OPG.

As part of the micro grid, solar panels will be installed in an area the size of a soccer field, along with a 300 kWh DC battery system with one-hour storage.

A micro grid controller will integrate the clean, renewable energy from the solar panels and the battery storage with the existing diesel distribution system. The controller will balance generation and energy storage to reduce diesel generator use in the community, shutting diesel off entirely at times. This will eliminate more than 300 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

OPG, along with the support of various technical firms, will act as the development partner for the micro grid, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and have a service life of 20 years. The company will coordinate government funding, manage procurement and construction, and provide some capital investment. It will also have access to data from the micro grid, which will provide useful “proof of use” information for micro grid technology.

Once the micro grid is up and running, KZA’s development corporation, Ma’iingan Development Inc., will take ownership and deliver clean energy through the existing distribution system to other remote communities, receiving all revenues in the process. It’s the first stepping stone towards KZA’s long-term vision for renewable energy.

“This project reflects our peoples’ connection with the land, and our responsibility as caretakers on behalf of all living things for seven generations,” said KZA Chief Wilfred King. “Through KZA’s ownership of the micro grid, we shall replace thousands of litres of dirty diesel fuel with clean solar power, and would be honoured to share our experience with off-grid Indigenous communities across Canada.”

The micro grid project is OPG’s fifth development project with an Indigenous community.