The Northwestel Remote Station Solar/Diesel Hybrid Feasibility study was completed through a partnership the Cold Climate Research Centre at Yukon College and the Energy Solutions Centre of the Government of Yukon.
NorthwesTel has been actively working to reduce the costs of operating microwave stations at remote sites across Northern Canada. The cost of operating and maintaining these remote stations is significant, costing NorthwesTel up to $5.00/L to fuel and up to $2.5 million dollars per year to maintain. The study of a solar photovoltaic (PV) array installed at Engineer Creek with an operational load of 1.8 kW to 2.8kW. The study established an optimized installed system size based on the required materials and labour necessary to construct the PV array at a remote site and at a high evaluation. This analysis shows that the optimum system size from an economic perspective is likely in the range of 10 - 20kW for a 1.8 kW load. The base cost of an installed PV at this size range was $0.28/kWh, which is significantly lower than the $1.5/kWh base cost of diesel energy load sufficient to power an operational load of 1.8kW.
It is nice to see the industry/government/Yukon College collaboration on this research. Northwestel has 187 remote microwave sites in the Canadian north and energy costs are very significant. If the use of PV technology can reduce costs in a ‘production setting’ it can be applied to many more sites to the benefit of all.