Cowessess leads First Nation’s communities in clean energy technologies

Andrea Nicholl
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Cowessess First Nation was one of 20 approved Clean Energy Fund projects across Canada. The First Nation will have a wind turbine and battery storage system installed next month. The system will be commissioned in January 2013.

Cowesses First Nation will pave the way for clean energy technologies with a Wind and Storage Demonstration Project aimed to demonstrate a combined wind and storage energy system in a First Nation community.

The Cowessess First Nation (CFN) was selected as one of 20 Clean Energy Fund (CEF) projects. The CEF program was open to a variety of potential applicants and received 178 proposals from non-profit and profit organization, utilities, industry, associations, as well as First Nations.

“The Cowessess proposal was selected based on the published criteria,” Project Manager Rob Brandon said from Ottawa. “Of the 20 Clean Energy Fund projects we have four which involve storage and the Cowessess project is one of them.”

The project involves installing an 800- Kilowatt wind turbine and a 1,000 Kilowatt lithium-ion battery storage system on CFN land two kilometres southeast of Regina.

“We were thinking of making it closer to home at the reserve in Broadview, SK, but we wanted to bring to light the possibility to have these wind turbines in Saskatchewan,” said Cowessess Chief Grady Lerat, adding the location was chosen, in part, because of the turbine’s visibility from Highway 1 and Highway 33.

The intent of the project is to demonstrate a wind-storage system that can harness wind power and provide a more continuous and predictable output for on-grid, and perhaps off-grid, applications.

“One of the program objectives was to demonstrate those technologies that could assist with the integration of bringing renewable energy into the grid,” said Brandon. “Because wind energy and solar energy is intermittent one of the benefits of storage technologies is that it enables a more constant flow of power to the grid which is more valuable to the grid.”

According to Natural Resources Canada, the wind-storage system could reduce wind volatility by as much as 70 per cent and the response to load changes would be very fast. If connected to the grid, the system could command a better electrical rate because the battery could be charged during off-peak periods and dispatched during the morning, noon and evening peak times. The system could potentially act as a stand-alone unit to provide service to promote off-grid communities given sufficient storage.

This is not the first time CFN has explored the option of wind energy. In 2004-05, Cowessess worked with the Department of Indian Affairs and the Saskatchewan Research Council in a clean energy project and wind study. Results from that study were used to determine the location of the turbine currently being installed.

The current $5.5 million Wind and Storage Demonstration Project is funded by the Clean Energy Fund (contributing $2.78 million), the provincial government through its Go Green program ($1.39 million), Indian and Northern Affairs ($248,000), Cowessess First Nation ($1.8 million) and the Saskatchewan Research Council ($180,000).

The project is well underway said Lerat and Brandon. The turbine was ordered from supplier Enercon on March 2, 2012 and will be installed next month.

“Around January 2013 the wind turbine and battery storage system will be commissioned…the current timeline would see it operational during the first part of 2013,” said Brandon.

“It is on schedule now,” said Lerat. “It’s been about five years in the making; we’re looking forward to this project getting established.”

The Wind and Storage Demonstration Project is part of the $1 billion Clean Energy Fund program announced in Budget 2009, Canada’s Economic Action Plan. The CEF Program’s primary objective is to support the Government’s commitment to make greater use of technologies that reduce Green House Gas emissions from energy production, and thus, contribute to the Government’s commitments of reducing Canada’s total GHG emissions by 20 per cent from 2006 levels by 2020, and providing 90 per cent of Canada’s electricity needs by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal or wind power by 2020.

Organizations: Cowessess First Nation, Clean Energy Fund, First Nations Broadview, SK Saskatchewan Research Council Natural Resources Canada Green House Gas Department of Indian Affairs

Geographic location: Ottawa, Regina, Saskatchewan Canada

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Recent comments

  • Angie Mihalicz
    February 05, 2013 - 14:19

    Congratulations, Cowessess- Proud of your leadership, and hope this is just the beginning of a transition to wind & solar energy.