BC Remote Community Integrated Energy (BCRCIE) Project
Lasqueti Island is a remote island in the Georgia Strait east of Vancouver Island with a population of about 400. The island has no hydro grid, no natural gas piping, and no car ferry. Regular transportation to Lasqueti is by passenger-only ferry. Supplies of gasoline, diesel and propane arrive by a tank truck carried on a landing barge from Vancouver Island. False Bay School (FBS) provides K-8 education for approximately 20 students on Lasqueti Island. The two-classroom school was equipped with a diesel generator for electrical power and was run for about 12 hours each day.
The Province of British Columbia, through the BC Ministry of Energy and Mines, applied for funding from the Government of Canada's ecoEnergy Innovation initiative on behalf of the Lasqueti community and two other remote communities in B.C. The BC Remote Community Integrated Energy (BCRCIE) Project was awarded $203K to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of using solar photovoltaic (PV) combined with battery storage in order to reduce diesel use in small off-grid systems. BCRCIE initially incorporated three sub-projects in three B.C. remote communities. However, only Lasqueti’s project (Lasqueti Community Integrated Energy Project) went ahead.
Two solar-diesel hybrid systems were installed: 42 kW PV capacity at FBS and 13 kW PV capacity at Judith Fisher Health Centre. The Health Centre provides permanent facilities for the local nurse, medical equipment and supplies, and rooms for exams and medical services. Both FBS and Health Centre systems have SMA Sunny Boy 7 kW and/or 9 kW solar inverters, SMA Sunny Island 6 kW off-grid inverters, and Global Yuasa 85T27 flooded lead-acid batteries.
The project demonstrates the technical and economic feasibility of PV combined with battery storage to reduce diesel use in small off- grid systems. Preliminary performance shows that the expected reduction in diesel consumption (relative to a diesel-only system with battery storage) is about 60% (False Bay School) to 70% (Judith Fisher Health Centre). Several years use will be necessary to confirm these savings.
The project includes a prototype installation of a “smart control” system for generator scheduling to optimize use of solar and minimize use of diesel within the hybrid system. Initial results indicate the prototype system will work well within its limited scope. This system will need further R & D to be ready for up-take by other communities, but offers considerable potential.