Design of a solar power farm north of Whitehorse
The Old Crow community, home of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, is located 800 km north of Whitehorse, inside the Arctic Circle. Like many remote communities, the Vuntut Gwitchin wanted to reduce their reliance on diesel fuel by switching to solar power.
The project was to design a solar power farm with 900 kW panels and 350 kWh of battery storage, the largest solar project in the Yukon.
OUR EXPERTS’ SOLUTIONS
BBA and its partner, 3eyond Consulting, analyzed various options for solar panel location, orientation, number and size, resulting in a unique back-to-back design rather than south-facing. Our experts also optimized the angle of the panels to maximize energy from the arctic sun’s low trajectory.
The battery size was optimized based on PV capacity, while a unique optimizer design from Solvest reduced inverter costs. Since travelling to Old Crow is only possible by air, designs must incorporate local materials or be transportable, eliminating large quantities of steel, wood and cement.
Since the solar farm had to be installed in the heart of a territory traditionally reserved for berry picking, we preserved areas dedicated to growing native plants.
Following recommendations from the Vuntut Gwitchin contractor, Porcupine Enterprises Ltd., the BBA geotechnical team designed foundations incorporating an ingenious combination of insulation, geotextiles and drainage tiles to reduce effects on permafrost.
IN THE WORDS OF OUR CLIENT…
“This project allows us to achieve our goal of having ownership over the facility.”
William Josie, Director, Natural Resources for the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
- 1MW of direct current (DC) solar power
- Currently producing 60 kW of alternating current (AC) power
- Ultimately producing up to 450 kW of AC power, once the batteries are installed
- Savings of 190,000 litres of diesel per year
- Nearly $400,000 of revenue per year, after financing is paid back.