The Mushkegowuk Council is a native tribal council in the James Bay area of northern Ontario, where some member First Nations are served by remote grids not connected to Ontario Hydro's system. The council recognises "that increased generating capacity is essential to the growth of their communities. However, considering the risks that dependence on fossil fuels present, they are considering utilising wind energy as an alternate or supplement to the diesel generating plants."
Among other recommendations, the guidelines state that wind-diesel development must include programmes for improving end use energy efficiency and developing waste heat recovery systems for use of exhaust and cooling water heat rejected by the diesel generators. In communities with reasonable wind resources, it is estimated such systems could reduce fuel use by a very significant amount, perhaps by as much as 50-60% depending upon community circumstances, explained Lodge. Adding wind will also mean that plant life will be extended and diesel related O&M costs reduced because the diesel generators will be run for fewer hours. "In addition to fuel and plant cost savings, fuel costs related to transport, storage and handling will be reduced," continued Lodge.
The report cautions, though, that wind-diesel technology "is also new and relatively unproven. Each community's approval process for wind-diesel systems should involve a comprehensive technical and engineering assessment giving consideration to risks and benefits and ensuring a high probability of meeting the economic and technical objectives of the community."
Also at the IPPSO meeting, Brian Kelly, director of the environment and sustainable development division at Ontario Hydro, discussed "Renewable Energy Technologies (RETs) and Remote Communities," one of eight programme elements comprising the Ontario Hydro RETs programme. Hydro aims to reduce the costs associated with supplying diesel electric generation and to increase the range and number of renewable energy technologies in off-grid communities, in order to gain experience with their installation, operation and maintenance. Wind feasibility mapping is underway in three remote communities in the James Bay area.
Proposed 1996 projects include 10 kW and 50 kW wind turbines for several communities, and an upgrade of the existing Fort Severn wind turbine. A possible new initiative is a request for proposals for remote community projects modelled on Hydro's 60 MW RETs request for proposals (Windpower Monthly, November 1995). Project proponents could include Hydro's own business units, the private sector, and First Nations groups.