Sustainability at Boat Bluff Lighthouse is literally a balancing act: siting the solar panels on the steep slopes at the entrance to Tolmie Channel presented challenges. CANADIAN COAST GUARD PHOTO

Lighthouses on B.C. coast converting to renewable energy

Lightstations moving away from diesel, embracing solar and wind power

British Columbia’s coastal lighthouses are going green. Not the colour: they will remain red and white on the outside. However, their power sources are turning to renewable energy.

“We have 27 staffed lightstations. So far we have four that have renewable systems installed,” says Shaun Loader, senior project engineer with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. “Next year we’ll have six more that are going to be upgraded to the same system.”

Renewable systems include battery banks, inverters, solar panels and wind turbines.

Coastal B.C.’s lightstations have traditionally run on diesel generators. Now that those generators are approaching the end of their life, stations are being converted to renewable energy sources. It’s a more cost effective way to power lightstations, Loader explained, especially when the cost and difficulty of delivering diesel to the stations are factored in.

“Those lighthouses are there for a reason. They’re difficult to access and treacherous…you can imagine getting supplies in there.”

READ MORE: Living on a lighthouse: author shares her memories

There are already four lightstations that are in various stages of conversion: Entrance Island at the mouth of Nanaimo Harbour, Merry Island on the Sunshine Coast, Boat Bluff near Bella Bella and Cape Scott at the north end of Vancouver Island. While the conversion systems are modular, each combination will be customized to the individual stations depending on whether they get more sunlight or more wind, Loader explained.

Timing for construction will depend on the weather windows: long stretches of calm weather will mean the work will be done faster.

The six stations expected to convert to renewable energy sources in 2019 are Carmanah on the West Coast Trail, Cape Beale (also along the West Coast Trail), Lennard Island off Tofino, Estevan Point, Ivory Island and Green Island, just off of Prince Rupert.

Work has already begun on the Cape Beale lightstation, which will receive two, 5-kilowatt solar arrays and two, 3Kw wind turbines, an inverter and battery bank system by the end of 2019. The cost to upgrade Cape Beale, for instance, will run around $300,000 ($40,000 for the battery bank, $100,000 for solar and $150,000 for wind turbines).

The payback for conversion won’t take long. It costs between $30,000 and $40,000 per year for diesel per lightstation, and that doesn’t include delivery and crew costs. With Cape Beale’s combination, for example, “it will be just under four years of payback.”

The diesel generators won’t be removed completely, Loader said. They will be replaced as they reach end of life; lightkeepers just won’t depend on them as much as they do now.

“They’re good as an emergency backup,” Loader said, or if the station needs to increase capacity or power supplied to the site for a search or other unexpected event.

“With renewable energy there will be gaps. On days where there’s not much wind or not much sun, (the generators) will be a backup system.”

RELATED: Lightkeepers to remain at the switch



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Sustainability at Boat Bluff Lighthouse is literally a balancing act: siting the solar panels on the steep slopes at the entrance to Tolmie Channel presented challenges. CANADIAN COAST GUARD PHOTO

Just Posted

West Kootenay RCMP charge man with impaired driving in school zone

Sgt. Chad Badry reports on impaired drivers and other high risk offences

Company granted leave to appeal Lemon Creek charges

Executive Flight Centre won a decision in the BC Court of Appeal

Extensive smoke, heat damage to Castlegar home after fire on Friday

One occupant suffered burns after fleeing house with pet

Cyclist struck in Castlegar

Morning mishap at gas station on Columbia

Kaslo bus fueled by vegetable oil to begin service next month

Mountain Man Mike’s will run routes to Vancouver and eventually Edmonton

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Raptors beat Bucks 120-102 to even series at 2-2

Lowry pours in 25 as Toronto moves within two games of NBA Finals

Body of missing snowmobiler recovered from Great Slave Lake

Police confirm the body is that of one of three missing snowmobilers

Toddler seriously injured after falling from Okanagan balcony

RCMP are investigating after a two-year-old boy fell from the balcony of an apartment in Kelowna

Cost jumps 35% for Trans-Canada Highway widening in B.C.

Revelstoke-area stretch first awarded under new union deal

Is vegan food a human right? Ontario firefighter battling B.C. blaze argues it is

Adam Knauff says he had to go hungry some days because there was no vegan food

Winds helping in battle against fire threatening northern Alberta town

Nearly 5,000 people have cleared out of High Level and nearby First Nation

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

Most Read