The Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation (MMFN) in British Columbia, Canada, is seeking information by March 31 about wave energy converter technologies for its Yuquot microgrid project on Nootka Island.
The project team has issued a request for information (RFI) and hopes to find firms interested in exploring the feasibility of integrating the wave energy technology into the microgrid
Yuquot is a national historic site and the ancestral home of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people. It is said to be the location of the first sustained contact between European settlers and indigenous people in Western Canada.
The “center of the universe” – then and in the future
Many consider Yuquot to be the birthplace of modern British Columbia, but to the MMFN, it is the “center of the universe,” according to Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation Administrator and CEO Azar Kamran.
In the 1950s, the MMFN people left Yuquot as part of a forced resettlement program that moved them to more accessible locations on Vancouver Island.
The renewable energy microgrid is an essential step in the re-occupation of Yuquot, as it will generate the electricity necessary to support the remote community in a manner not entirely dependent on diesel generators.
“This village was a trade hub – a place of great wealth sought after by our European visitors,” said Kamran. “Moving forward we want to establish Yuquot as a ‘center’ once more – now in the context of setting examples for innovation in community building and clean energy development.”
Wave energy unusual in a microgrid
WEC technologies capture energy from the surface motion of waves and can be sited offshore, near shore and at shore-based locations.
Yuquot’s location on Nootka Island, which is off the Western coast of Vancouver Island, is ideal for harnessing the power of the water of Nootka Sound and the Pacific Ocean.
MMFN has partnered with the University of Victoria’s Pacific Regional Institute for Marine Energy Discovery (PRIMED) on the microgrid project. PRIMED was created in 2017 to help remote indigenous communities on the British Columbia coast plan and develop marine energy demonstration projects.
“If you can make an innovative, first of its kind wave energy system functional in Yuquot that means that it can succeed anywhere,” said Brad Buckham, chair of UVic Mechanical Engineering and co-director of PRIMED.
In addition to incorporating wave energy converter (WEC) technology, the Yuquot microgrid will use diesel, solar and battery energy storage.
PRIMED was recently awarded $1 million in grant funding from TD Bank Group’s 2022 TD Ready Challenge for the Yuquot microgrid.
“The 2022 TD Ready funding allows for PRIMED and other project partners to make Yuquot’s microgrid and wave energy component a reality through comprehensive modeling, risk mitigation strategies, detailed system design and oversight on the permitting and licensing conversations with provincial and federal representatives so that the MMFN can move forward with confidence,” Kamran said.
According to Buckham, the MMFN “are willing partners demonstrating leadership by embracing an entirely new microgrid system of clean, renewable energy that has the potential to be a model of how wave energy is harnessed in small coastal communities here in Canada and around the world.”
Size to be determined
The size of the microgrid has not yet been finalized although, according to Barkley Project Group (BPG), the project will take a modular approach that will allow the system to expand based on community and local economic growth. BPG anticipates the maximum demand for the microgrid will be 50 kW in the short term and 170 kW in the long term.
BPG issued the RFI on behalf of MMFN.
Through the RFI, the project partners hope to determine the feasibility of wave energy integration as well as considerations around system design. The information gathered from the RFI will help to define the microgrid’s final project scope.
The deadline for the RFI is 5 p.m. PST on March 31.
Interested in microgrids? Learn more about projects like this one May 16-17 at Microgrid 2023: Lights On! in Anaheim, California. Check out our special session, How Communities Are Taking Control of their Energy. See the full agenda here.