News Release

Innovative energy storage a breakthrough for remote communities

BELLA COOLA, B.C. – A state-of-the-art energy storage project that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and potentially alter the way remote communities around the globe are powered was officially commissioned in Bella Coola on Thursday.

Making the announcement were Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and M.P. for Okanagan-Coquihalla, along with John Rustad, MLA, Nechako Lake, and Chief Spencer Siwallace from the Nuxalk Nation.

The Hydrogen Assisted Renewable Power (HARP) project is a partnership between BC Hydro, GE and Powertech and is supported by the Province of B.C. and Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC).

“Our government is working to position Canada as the world’s foremost clean energy superpower,” said Day. “With investments like GE’s groundbreaking Renewable Microgrid Systems, our government is helping Canadians living in remote communities to be less dependent on fossil fuels. Through this project, we are stimulating Canada’s green economy, creating jobs and helping protect the environment.”

Bella Coola, located about 400 kilometres north of Vancouver, has a regional population of about 1,900, and due to its remote location, is not connected to BC Hydro’s provincial electricity grid. To date, the community has been powered by greenhouse emitting diesel generators and by a run-of-river power facility which, while generating clean electricity, is not capable of storing it.

By providing storage capacity to the run-of-river-facility, the new technology will reduce the use of diesel generators and reduce Bella Coola’s annual diesel consumption by 200,000 litres – lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 600 tonnes annually. In addition, a microgrid controller has been installed to automatically respond to changes in supply and demand to ensure the energy is managed efficiently.

“This project is a great example of how we can use innovation and technology to strengthen B.C.’s clean energy future,” said Bill Bennett, B.C.'s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. ”Thanks to BC Hydro’s commitment to helping remote communities acquire clean power and Bella Coola’s commitment to an efficient supply of electricity, we are setting an example for the rest of the country.”

“GE’s smart grid technologies are designed to help solve the world’s toughest energy challenges,” said Larry Sollecito, vice president, smart grid for GE’s Digital Energy business. “With our microgrid control solution powering the HARP system, we’re able to make sustainability a reality.  We applaud Bella Coola for embracing innovation and being a model for remote communities around the globe.”

“Powertech's expertise in the clean technology industry has been instrumental in developing the HARP energy storage system for the Bella Coola demonstration project,” said Dave Cobb, President and CEO of BC Hydro. “This project is just one example of the testing and measuring capabilities available through Powertech's highly qualified team of engineers and technical experts. It is through these types of business and community partnerships that clean energy solutions are made possible in B.C.”

“This project could have a significant impact on the everyday lives of Canadians who live in remote communities,” said SDTC president and CEO Vicky J. Sharpe. “By using clean technologies and a microgrid instead of diesel-powered generators, communities such as Bella Coola will be a lot less dependent on fossil fuels, therefore greatly reducing both their greenhouse gas emissions and their energy costs.”

About BC Hydro:

A crown corporation, BC Hydro reports to the B.C. 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 per cent of British Columbia's population. BC Hydro endeavours to provide energy solutions to its customers in an environmentally and socially responsible way by balancing British Columbians' energy needs with the concerns of the environment.

About Powertech:

Powertech, BC Hydro’s subsidiary specializing in clean energy consulting, testing, and power solutions, has been serving electrical, oil and gas companies, automotive and electrical equipment manufacturers since 1989 by meeting the complex and changing needs of our customers around the world.

Powertech is a true B.C.-based high technology success story, leveraging our province’s leadership and unique expertise in clean energy solutions for clients around the world.

About GE:

GE (NYSE: GE) is a diversified infrastructure, finance and media company taking on the world’s toughest challenges. From aircraft engines and power generation to financial services, health care solutions and television programming, GE operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 300,000 people worldwide.

For more information, visit GE serves the energy sector by developing and deploying technology that helps make efficient use of natural resources. With nearly 85,000 global employees and 2009 revenues of $37 billion, GE Energy is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies.

The businesses that comprise GE Energy – GE Power & Water, GE Energy Services and GE Oil & Gas – work together to provide integrated product and service solutions in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels.

About SDTC:

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) is an arm’s-length foundation created by the Government of Canada which has received $1.05 billion as part of the government’s commitment to create a healthy environment and a high quality of life for all Canadians. 

SDTC operates two funds aimed at the development and demonstration of innovative technological solutions. The $550 million SD Tech Fund™ supports projects that address climate change, air quality, clean water, and clean soil. The $500 million NextGen Biofuels Fund™ supports the establishment of first-of-kind large demonstration-scale facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels.

SDTC operates as a not-for-profit corporation and has been working with the public and private sector including industry, academia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the financial community and all levels of government to achieve this mandate.