Community Energy Case Studies

The Lasqueti Community Integrated Energy Project (completed March 2016)

Origins and motivations

This unique remote island community project involved installing renewable energy technologies to displace diesel use for electricity generation in a number of community buildings. The project was originally conceived by False Bay School (FBS) students, teachers, and parents, who also had the vision and determination to raise the initial seed funding that leveraged partner funding, donations and other project support from a number of organizations including:

  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Province of B.C.
  • BC Sustainable Energy Association
  • Vancity/Real Estate Foundation of BC
  • Islands Trust 
  • School District #69
  • Fraser Basin Council
  • Lasqueti Last Resort Society
  • Lasqueti Community Association.

Challenges and solutions

One of the challenges of a solar and diesel hybrid electrical system (with battery storage) is ensuring that the combined system optimizes solar input and minimizes fuel consumption. The SMA solar inverters are capable of starting and stopping the generator, but only based on a limited set of criteria. Therefore, a simple generator scheduling computer was installed and programmed to function as a “smart control system”. A comprehensive monitoring system was also installed to capture detailed data on fuel consumption and other costs.  These web-accessible systems can read weather forecasts from the internet, calculate expected photovoltaic (PV) output, look up and learn typical daily load profiles, determine optimum generator start and stop times, and alter parameters to cause the generator to start or stop. 

These systems will also provide valuable information for education and research purposes and are available for public viewing here:

Sunny Portal: Lasqueti FBS PV System Profile

Enteliweb: False Bay School Energy System Monitoring

Results

The project was installed in two phases, including 13 kilowatt (kW) PV capacity at the Judith Fisher Health Centre, and 42 kW PV capacity at the school. Both the FBS and the Health Centre systems have SMA Sunny Boy 7 kW and/or 9 kW solar inverters, SMA Sunny Island 6 kW off-grid inverters, and flooded lead-acid batteries.

The resulting high-penetration solar and diesel hybrid energy systems have a total of 55 kW of PV solar capacity. Both systems are expected to achieve a 60 to 75 percent reduction in CO2 emissions relative to relying solely on a diesel generator.