Riding the green wave: Digby Port Days renewable energy tour

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on September 20, 2015
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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>More than 50 people went on the renewable energy tour of Digby County Sept. 18 as part of the Digby Port Days and Renewable Energy Symposium.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Max Barr of South West Eco Energy explains the anaerobic digester they use to make electricity from mink manure in Weaver Settlement.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>The renewable energies tour stopped at Universite Sainte Anne to learn how they use wind power, solar energy and a woodchip-fired heating system to cut energy costs.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>The renewable energy tour started with a visit to the Gulliver’s Cove wind farm.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Mark Landriault of General Electric, Robert Duran and Nova Scotia Power and Terry Thibodeau with the Municipality of the District of Digby answer questions about the Gulliver’s Cove wind farm and renewable energy in general during a tour on Sept. 18.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Visitors to the Gulliver’s Cove wind farm were given a look inside one of the turbine tower on Sept. 18.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>The 20 wind turbines at the Gulliver’s Cove wind farm can produce up to 30 megawatts of electricity and have a capacity factor above 40 percent – meaning they are running at full capacity more than 40 per cent of the time.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

green wave

Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Mark Landriault of General Electric answers questions about the Gulliver’s Cove wind farm and renewable energy in general during a tour on Sept. 18.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>The Digby Port Days renewable energy tour visited the 300-kilowatt electrical generator belonging to the Municipality of the District of Digby in Weaver Settlement. The generator burns methane gas produced by the anaerobic digestion of mink manure and other compostable waste.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>The generator belongs to the municipality and is operated by South West Eco Energy. The municipality qualifies for a community feed-in tariff allowing them to sell the electricity to Nova Scotia Power at a special rate.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Rob Rhodenizer of South West Eco shows visitors the holding tank of mink manure and other waste to be digested.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>Allister Surette, president of the Universite Sainte Anne, shows a picture of one of the two gasification biomass furnaces that heat the campus.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

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Published on 20 September 2015

<p>People filled Digby Hall at the Digby Pines for the third Digby Port Days on Sept. 18.</p>

Photos by Jonathan Riley

DIGBY – Digby Port Days included a tour of Digby County’s most innovative renewable energy projects.

Terry Thibodeau, the renewable energy coordinator for the Municipality of the District of Digby (MoDD), says the idea was to get the word out about some of the important projects happening in Digby County.

“These projects are one part of our plan to become the greenest county in Nova Scotia,” he said. “It’s important to blow our own horn and point out the steps we are taking right here right now.”

More than 50 people took the tour which started with a stop at Nova Scotia Power’s wind farm above Gulliver’s Cove.

Mark Landriault of General Electric explained the set up of the 30-megawatt wind farm.

He and two G.E. technicians monitor and maintain the turbines and their generators – and he is very proud of the facility’s high capacity factor, often above 40 per cent – meaning the wind is remarkably dependable at the site.

Visitors asked if the site could hold more turbines.

Landriault said it could but the electrical transmission grid is already maxed out and doesn’t have enough room for anymore industrial scale energy production.

The next stop on the tour was Weaver Settlement where MoDD and South West Eco Energy (SWEE) have teamed up to install an anaerobic digester that feeds methane gas to a 300-kilowatt generator.

SWEE is a consortium of mink farmers who built and operate the facility to accept and digest mink manure in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The plant can handle about 15,000 tonnes of manure a year and they hope to get it producing 2,000 cubic metres of biogas every day, of which about 60 per cent would be methane.

MoDD owns the generator and qualifies to sell power into the distribution grid at a special rate under the COMFIT or community owned feed-in tariff program. The program is intended to encourage small local renewable energy projects.

The liquid left over after the mink manure has been digested is spread on hay fields.

The final stop was a tour of Universite Sainte Anne in Church Point, which has perhaps the greenest campus in Canada.

They have two 50-kilowatt wind turbines, one of which was installed under a net metering program and saves them about $25,000 in electricity costs a year. The other was installed under COMFIT and brings in about $75,000 a year for the university.

They have installed 118 solar panels on the roofs and grounds of the campus to heat their domestic hot water.

The central heating system at the university is powered by two gasification biomass furnaces which run on wood chips from a local supplier.

The university no longer burns any oil for heat and hot water at a savings of $300,000 a year.

The complete project cost the university $3 million.

Thibodeau says this is a great example to illustrate how renewable energy projects can not only make good sense environmentally, but also economically.

jriley@digbycourier.ca