Media release - for immediate release
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
November 3, 2010
BCCGE applauds run-of-river
energy storage project
“Energy storage is the Holy Grail for all types of renewable
green energy — solar, wind, run-of-river, wave, tidal, you
name it — because it captures the clean energy generated by
these renewable energy sources in a form that makes it available
whenever and wherever you want it or need it."
— David Field, co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy —
Vancouver, B.C. — B.C. Citizens for Green Energy (BCCGE) is applauding the successful launch of a state-of-the-art clean energy demonstration project in Bella Coola that uses hydrogen to store renewable clean energy generated by the nearby Clayton Falls run-of-river facility.
BCCGE co-spokesperson David Field says he’s thrilled to see this kind of energy innovation taking place right here in B.C. and he points to the significance this project has for other remote communities in B.C. not currently connected to the BC Hydro grid.
“Energy storage is the Holy Grail for all types of renewable green energy — solar, wind, run-of-river, wave, tidal, you name it — because it captures the clean energy generated by these renewable energy sources in a form that makes it available whenever and wherever you want it or need it,” Field said. “The Bella Coola project is very exciting and it’s something people in this province should be aware of and proud of.”
Currently, Field says, Bella Coola’s primary source of electricity is the 48-year-old Clayton Falls run-of-river facility built in 1962. And although the Clayton Falls facility is a completely clean source of electricity, the community (like many other remote “off-the-grid” communities in B.C.) has had to rely on supplemental power from diesel generators to fully meet its electricity needs during periods of peak electricity demand or during periods of low water flow.
The beauty of the Bella Coola project, Field says, is that whenever electricity demand in Bella Coola is low, the surplus electricity from the Clayton Falls run-of-river facility is used to generate hydrogen through simple electrolysis. The clean hydrogen gas that’s generated is then stored under pressure and used to generate clean electricity when it is needed later on using a 100 kilowatt hydrogen fuel cell.
At the heart of the demonstration project in Bella Coola is a “microgrid controller” which automatically — and intelligently — responds to changes in electricity supply and demand and optimizes the community’s energy resources. The resulting smart grid knows when to store hydrogen and when to put that stored energy back onto the grid to reduce the need for diesel generation.
“Smart grid technology is going to let us actively manage the electrical grid; it’s the biggest change in the electrical system since Thomas Edison,” Field said. “Smart technology and smart grids are the linchpins that make distributed energy systems like the one in Bella Coola possible.”
Field says surplus clean energy from the 48-year-old Clayton Falls run-of-river facility is also being stored using an “electrochemical regenerative fuel cell” (commonly known as a flow battery) which is capable of providing another 125 kilowatt of stored clean electricity to the Bella Coola community.
Field acknowledges that we are still in the early days of hydrogen storage, but he is also quick to point out that — here in B.C. — we’re already able to store energy from run-of-river and wind energy projects very effectively using the reservoirs behind the province’s many hydroelectric dams.
“Whenever run-of-river projects, or any other renewable energy project, are supplying the grid with surplus energy, it allows BC Hydro to turn down its generators and store water in their reservoirs for later use,” Field said. “It’s a very cost-effective and convenient way to store renewable energy, and it’s better than importing coal-fired electricity from Alberta and the States to accomplish the same thing which is what we’re doing right now.”
The Bella Coola hydrogen demonstration project is a partnership between BC Hydro, GE and Powertech (a BC Hydro subsidiary specializing in clean energy consulting, testing, and power solutions) with support from the provincial and federal governments.
The project was officially commissioned in September and is expected to reduce Bella Coola's annual diesel consumption by 200,000 litres and lower annual greenhouse gas emissions by 600 tonnes.
For more information contact David Field
Co-spokesperson, B.C. Citizens for Green Energy
e-mail us at email@example.com
B.C. Citizens for Green Energy is an advocacy group representing a cross-section of British Columbians who encourage a legacy of clean, renewable electricity for future generations.
Note: Although the Clayton Falls run-of-river facility was originally built in 1962 (48 years ago), it was extensively refurbished and expanded in 1991 at which time the facility went from 700 kilowatts to 2 megawatts in capacity. In particular, the powerhouse and penstock were replaced making the majority of the facility 20 years old as opposed to 48 years. The expansion and refurbishment in 1991 created the surplus of off-peak energy now being used in the Bella Coola demonstration project.