Case study –Colville Lake
Colville Lake is a First Nation community of 160 residents, located 50 km north of the Arctic Circle, in the Northwest Territories (NWT) of Canada. The airport is not adequate for large cargo delivery and a winter ice road is open only a few weeks each year to bring in the annual diesel supply. The community’s first power generation plant was built in 1990, prior to which there was no community-wide electricity generation.
Colville Lake’s diesel-powered generators were at the end of life and needed to be replaced. NTPC looked for innovative alternatives to integrate renewable energy technologies, improve generator efficiency by sharing peak loads, and still reliably meet the community’s growing demand for electricity. The peak demand increased from 40 kW in 1990 to 160 kW in 2014. The new location of the plant also reduced noise and exhaust in the town and presented an opportunity to meet the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) goal of expanding renewable energy generation.
The community’s diesel power plant was designed with a load capacity of between 35 kW and 150 kW, which it wished to augment with solar PV. SAFT, a HOMER Pro Gold Partner, performed numerous simulations to help size the PV expansion and analyze fuel consumption. The added renewable energy augments diesel power with 50kW of PV, expanded to 136 kW. SAFT’s storage solution has been found to reduce the community’s diesel consumption by 80,000 liters per year.
The small scale of renewable electricity generation made the economics of this project challenging; however, it represented a lower-risk opportunity to study both the integration of large renewable loads and battery storage in remote communities. The combination of new solar, improved energy efficiency and reduced operating and maintenance costs is expected to add up to $75,000 in annual cost savings.