Northern Ontario First Nation hooked up to new solar grid to help offset diesel usage

Officials in Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek, also known as Gull Bay First Nation, in northwestern Ontario will unveil a new electricity system on Friday which is designed to reduce the community’s reliance on diesel generators to supply power.

The microgrid system uses more than 1,000 ground-mounted solar panels that are wired to a central controller and battery storage system, according to Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (ISEO).

The community will be powered by the solar batteries as long as there is enough of a charge; when that runs out, the controller will seamlessly switch the system back to the diesel generators until the batteries are recharged with solar power.

Early results and projections show the system will cut down on the amount of diesel fuel required to power the remote community, which is located about 175 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. Kiashke Zaaging is not connected to the provincial power grid.

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