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At the ninth annual International Wind Diesel Workshop, held June 5-7 in the New Hampshire town of Hanover in the US, 65 participants from the wind energy industry, remote community utilities and government learned of the prospects for diesel-coupled wind power pilot projects in remote aboriginal communities on the shores of Hudson Bay and James Bay in Canada.

Developing regions of the world which could greatly reduce fuel costs using wind-diesel are often reluctant to adopt or continue wind-diesel projects. This resistance flows from "the legacy of previous errors and mistakes caused by hasty implementations to meet ill founded objectives," said Malcolm Lodge of Island Technologies Inc (ITI), of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and Peter Hughes, Atlantic Orient Corp (AOC), of Norwich, Vermont.

Their suggested solution is to establish, "stronger communications with the potential beneficiaries in remote communities, utilities and governments and ensure that proposals, designs and projects are properly and carefully planned and executed." ITI and AOC were the workshop organisers and co-sponsors.

A case study considered the technical and economic feasibility of a village-scale demonstration of Hydro Quebec's High Penetration No-Storage Wind Diesel (HPNSWD) System, being developed at the 200 kW test bed of the Atlantic Wind Test Site in Prince Edward Island, the site of last year's Wind-Diesel Workshop (Windpower Monthly, August 1994). Testing and validation of the system is scheduled for completion at the test site by early 1996 and a village-scale pilot is being considered for the Inuit community of Inukjuak, above the tree line on Hudson Bay in northern Quebec. Inukjuak has a peak demand of 817 kW, forecasted to rise to 1373 kW in year 2000.

Detailed cost estimates for Inukjuak, by Real Reid of the Hydro Quebec Research Institute (IREQ) and Jean-Pierre Laflamme of Hydro Quebec, show that the initial investment of $6.8 million in 1999 for installation of 32, 50 kW AOC wind turbines (150% penetration), with controls and dump load, would provide a savings of $2.1 million in 1999 dollars for operation over the 25 year period 1999-2024, compared to diesel-only operation. The HPNSWD system has an economic potential for larger Inuit villages with an annual wind speed of 7 m/s or greater. The project was submitted to a Hydro Quebec steering committee for review before commitment. Such savings could help reduce Hydro Quebec's operating deficit of over $66 million in supplying diesel power to remote communities, which total 62 MW of peak demand.

Interest by northern Ontario First Nation communities in wind-diesel systems was also revealed at the workshop. The Canadian Wind Energy Association asked ITI and Passmore Associates International of Ottawa and Toronto to prepare a guideline document for the Mushkegowuk First Nations Council which will give planning and implementation guidelines to remote communities, and show how wind-diesel technology can assist their economic improvement. The council represents aboriginal communities in the James Bay region of northern Ontario.

A wind-photovoltaic hybrid power system at Xcalak in Quintana Roo province on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula was described by Steve Droullhet of the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This 125 kW project includes six 10 kW Bergey wind turbines. Since there was no established authority to operate the system, the electricity it supplies is not billed or paid for, and demand has quickly grown to 250 kW. The users are dissatisfied with its performance. The system also experiences operating problems due to a lack of trained maintenance personnel, but usually not due to equipment problems.

In another development described at the workshop, the North African country of Morocco will shortly commission a turnkey wind-diesel system utilising one AOC 15/50 wind turbine and two 50 kW diesel generators to supply electrical power to an agricultural greenhouse complex and for ice-making in a nearby fishing community. This is the first of many turnkey projects which AOC hopes to develop.

"The general tempo of the workshop was very positive," concluded Lodge. "Positive rumours of several new wind energy projects in remote communities were heard. Some of these have resulted in orders for equipment and services from suppliers present. The workshop seems to have lived up to its reputation again that it is the place where things begin and happen in the wind-diesel business."

The 10th annual Wind-Diesel Workshop will be held in June 1996 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The annual workshop is cosponsored by the Canadian Wind Energy Association and the American Wind Energy Association, and supported by other organisations. This report has drawn on workshop notes by Malcolm Lodge.

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