N.W.T. town plans to run completely on solar energy this summer

While the rest of Canada talks and talks about reducing reliance on fossil fuels, one tiny northern town is leading the way in actually doing it.

See Full Article

Colville Lake, high in a corner of the Northwest Territories, has successfully tested a system of batteries and solar panels that should allow the community to run entirely on the sun's energy -- at least in the summer.

"There is really no other community that I know of that is structured this way," said Myra Berrub, manager of energy services for the Northwest Territories Power Corp.

Colville Lake, a Dene community of about 150, needed to replace its aging diesel generator. The corporation installed a new one, but supplemented it with batteries and an array of solar panels capable of generating 136 kilowatts.

When it's dark, Colville Lake runs off diesel. The batteries save fuel by absorbing and storing any power in excess of demand, so the generator always runs at maximum efficiency.

As more light returns after the dark days of winter, the use of solar power will expand until it meets all the community's needs.

The community now sees about eight hours of low-angle sunlight a day. By late May, sunlight is virtually 24-hour.

"The sun is just starting to come back," said Berrub. "We're just starting to generate solar right now. We do expect there will be periods when solar is running the town."

It's a small solar station, but Berrub said Colville Lake banking so heavily on it makes it unique.

"There are other communities that have large solar arrays, but the uniqueness of this installation is that it's a remote community. It's not on a grid, so you don't have the grid to help you smooth out any bumps."

The project is being carefully watched.

Power is a big issue across the North. Outside of Yukon's hydroelectric development, most Canadian Arctic communities depend on giant diesel generators that get their expensive, high-carbon fuel delivered over ice roads and on barges.

A 2014 Senate committee concluded northern electricity systems are "aging, underperforming and at capacity." Northern premiers regularly request federal funds to deal with the problem.

Some renewable sources are already functioning in the Arctic.

Biomass -- also known as "wood stoves" -- heats many homes. Wind turbines have been installed outside Whitehorse as well as in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

Colville Lake may become a model, said Berrub.

"If costs do come down in the future and net savings are there, it would certainly be something we would consider for other communities."

So far, solar power does cost more than diesel -- mostly because of the expensive batteries, said Berrub. The $7.8-million system received a $1.3-million subsidy from the territorial government.

There are other benefits to moving away from diesel.

"You don't have the exhaust and you don't have the noise. It'll be really exciting to have the community quiet without the diesels running."


Latest Tech & Science News

  • Forest tours offered in Chinese to promote conservation in B.C.

    Tech & Science CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- Conservationists have their eyes on a demographic that hasn't been tapped into before in terms of educating people about British Columbia's old growth forests. About half a million people in B.C.'s Lower Mainland are Chinese-language speakers, yet most environmental programs and tours are offered in English only, said Ken Wu, executive director of the Ancient Forest Alliance. Source
  • U.S. presidential election uses hodge-podge of voting technology

    Tech & Science CBC News
    When Americans go the polls on Nov. 8, they'll be casting votes using a wide array of technology, from touchscreens to pen and paper. In light of Donald Trump's claims of election fraud — and with the memory of the disputed presidential election of 2000 still looming — that technology could be under more scrutiny than ever in this year's presidential election. Source
  • Attacks that disrupted Twitter, Paypal, Spotify were just a dry run, hackers say

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Could millions of connected cameras, thermostats and kids' toys bring the internet to its knees? It's beginning to look that way. On Friday, epic cyberattacks crippled a major internet firm, repeatedly disrupting the availability of popular websites across North America and Europe such as Twitter, Netflix and PayPal. Source
  • Attacks on the internet getting bigger and nastier

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Could millions of connected cameras, thermostats and kids' toys bring the internet to its knees? It's beginning to look that way. On Friday, epic cyberattacks crippled a major internet firm, repeatedly disrupting the availability of popular websites across the United States. Source
  • Glenn Greenwald weighs in on WikiLeaks data dump on Clinton

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Two people at the heart of the most earth-shattering leaks of stolen data in the past few years are at odds about how those troves of documents should be handled in public. "You'd have to be a sociopath to think that we ought to just take all of this material and dump it all on the internet without regard to the impact that it will have for innocent people," says Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first reported on the massive document leak provided to him by former U.S. Source
  • Alberta to spend more to cut methane emissions

    Tech & Science CTV News
    EDMONTON - Alberta plans to spend more money to cut methane emissions. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says another $33 million will be added to the $7 million already pledged to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas by 45 per cent by 2025. Source
  • 'Red Dead Redemption 2' - 3 ways it could fail [Photos]

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    Saddle up, pardner. It looks like we’re going back to the Wild West. Rockstar Games, the video game empire behind the juggernaut Grand Theft Auto series, set the Internet on fire this week by releasing mysterious images that suggest – nay, outright declare – another game in the Red Dead series is on its way. Source
  • Cyberattacks disrupt Twitter, Netflix, PlayStation Network, others

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    LONDON — Cyberattacks on a key Internet firm repeatedly disrupted the availability of popular websites across the United States on Friday, according to analysts and company officials. The attack had knock-on effects for users trying to access popular websites from across America, Canada and even in Europe. Source
  • Russian indicted on charges he hacked LinkedIn

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- A Russian man has been charged with hacking and stealing information from computers at LinkedIn and other San Francisco Bay Area companies, federal prosecutors announced Friday. A grand jury indicted Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Nikulin, 29, of Moscow, Russia, on Thursday on charges including computer intrusion and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Source
  • Why it's so hard to land on Mars: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    It looks more and more like the Schiaparelli lander crashed on Mars this week, a huge disappointment for the European Space Agency and the Russian space agency, Roscosmos. But the incident is only the last in a long history of robot missions to Mars, where almost 60 per cent have failed for one reason or another. Source