Northern Canadian Town Will Be Powered Solely By the Sun This Summer

From coast to coast, Canadians are always looking at new ways to reduce their carbon footprint by making simple changes in their everyday lives.

From reducing energy consumption to traveling sustainably, and by being conscious of what they purchase, Canadians are trying to live greener.

But one northern Canadian community has gone above and beyond when it comes to living more environmentally friendly as it plans on running entirely off the sun’s energy this summer.

Colville Lake, high in a corner of the Northwest Territories, has successfully tested a system of batteries and solar panels that will enable the small community of 150 people to live solely by the sun, the Toronto Star reports.

“There is really no other community that I know of that is structured this way,” said Myra Berrub, manager of energy services for the Northwest Territories Power Corp.

HO/The Canadian Press

When the community needed to replace its aging diesel generator, the corporation installed a new one, supplemented by batteries and an array of solar panels capable of generating 136 kilowatts.

During the darker months, Colville Lake runs solely off diesel. The batteries save fuel by absorbing and storing any power in excess of demand, so the town’s generator is constantly running at maximum efficiency.

Once sunlight fully returns after winter, the use of solar power will expand until it meets all the community’s needs.

Currently, the community only sees about eight hours of low-angle sunlight a day, but by late May, sunlight is virtually 24 hours, the Star reports.

“There are other communities that have large solar arrays, but the uniqueness of this installation is that it’s a remote community. It’s not on a grid, so you don’t have the grid to help you smooth out any bumps.”

While many northern towns currently rely on diesel generators, a 2014 Senate committee concluded northern electricity systems are “aging, underperforming and at capacity.”

If Coleville Lake is able to successfully live off its solar power this summer, it could pave the way for other northern communities to follow suit.