BC Hydro, General Electric (GE) and Powertech are collaborating on the demonstration of a Hydrogen Assisted Renewable Power System (HARP)—a clean power solution for remote, off-grid communities—in the town of Bella Coola, British Columbia. The Project is supported by Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a not-for-profit corporation created by the Government of Canada.
Bella Coola, which is 439 kilometers (273 miles) north of Vancouver, is not connected to BC Hydro’s grid. Currently, the town is powered by diesel generators, which emit greenhouse gases, and by a run-of-river facility which, while clean, is not capable of storing energy.
The HARP peak power shaving system works by converting electricity from a renewable source (run-of-river), in off-peak periods, into hydrogen through an electrolyzer, and subsequently into electricity through a fuel cell for power during periods of peak demand.
The HARP project will address two challenges. It will reduce Bella Coola’s annual diesel consumption by 200,000 liters—lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 600 tonnes annually, and provide storage for run-of-river power, so the electricity can be used when the community needs it most.—Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources
The benefits will be optimized through the use of a microgrid system which will wirelessly monitor and react to changes in supply and demand. A Microgrid Controller, developed by GE, will find the most economically efficient way to manage energy for the community.
Testing of the system is now underway at Powertech. Once testing is complete, BC Hydro will move the equipment to Bella Coola and construct the project. It will begin operating later in 2009.
A crown corporation, BC Hydro reports to the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. It is the third largest electric utility in Canada and serves customers in an area containing over 94% of British Columbia's population. Powertech is BC Hydro’s subsidiary that specializes in clean energy consulting, testing, and power solutions.