A 15 kW AC solar system was installed on the Tsiigehtchic maintenance garage in September. Photo courtesy of Green Sun Rising
A 15 kW AC solar system was installed on the Tsiigehtchic maintenance garage in September. Photo courtesy of Green Sun Rising

Barge delays didn’t just limit the amount of fuel available in the the communities of Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk and Sachs Harbour this year.

Green Sun Rising owner Klaus Dohring had plans to install four solar arrays in Ulukhaktok — enough to save the community 16,800 litres in diesel per year and avoid 44,300 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide emissions, but the three week delay in arrival meant he ended up paying a technician to sit around.

“Because of the terrible delay in the barge, our teams were only able to do two out of four installations,” he said. “We had planned to do Tsiigehtchic and Ulukhaktok one after the other. Initial plan was we would be starting in Ulukhaktok. We went by what the barge service told us — but then there was delay, delay, delay, delay, delay — in total three weeks delayed. So we changed plans and did Tsiigehtchic first and split the team.

“I sent two people to Ulukhaktok expecting the barge would arrive when they said it would be there. They ended up sitting there doing nothing. Nine days they were idle.”

Ulukhaktok will now have to wait until the spring, when Dohring said he intends to drive up the Dempster Highway with a trailer of equipment to finish the job.

It’s the lone grey cloud on an otherwise sunny year for Green Sun Rising, which also installed a 10 kW solar array in Grise Fiord on Elsmere Island — saving 3,000 litres of diesel per year in North America’s northernmost civilian settlement. Here in the Beaufort Delta, Tsiigehtchic’s water treatment plant and maintenance garage installed 3 kW and 15 kW systems, which Dohring said would save the community approximately 5,000 L of diesel per year.

While the solar arrays aren’t useful for much more than decoration in the dark winter months, during the endless days of Arctic summers their energy output can be as high as at the equator, offsetting the fossil fuels currently used for generating power. Dohring added he can monitor the solar arrays’ output from his base in Windsor Ont. and catch any malfunctions right away.

He said he could be saving people in the Delta a lot more fuel if the Northwest Territories Power Corporation would let him.

“Tsiigehtchic had limitations from the grid side — we basically used what we could and distributed between the two sides,” he said. “For the garage, we’re at the maximum the utility allows for net metering, which is 15 kW, and the water treatment plant is only three kW – that’s really dinky little. When the system in Ulukhaktok is done it will be a total of four solar installations — Hamlet Office 15kW, Mechanic Shop 15kW, 3-Bay Garage eight kW and Fire Hall seven kW. Combined 45kW alternating current is the maximum capacity that NTPC presently allows for Ululukhaktok, so we are maxing it out. Annual combined generation calculated at 58,691 kW hour.

“We can do more. We did a 110 kW system in Rankin Inlet last year and that has made 30,000 kW hours this year — that translates into 22,000L saved. That’s diesel in the community, not including the energy it takes to get it there.”

Dohring added over the last eight years his company has installed 48 solar systems in diesel-using communities across the North. Together, that amounts to 330,000 L of diesel not burned for electricity in the summer, which the community can put towards other needs such as winter heating or hunting expeditions. Dohring first started Green Sun Rising in 2007.

Among the places he’s installed solar arrays are all four major communities in Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador.

Practically free electricity may not be spreading in the NWT as fast as Dohring would like, but Nunavut is keeping him plenty busy. Next year he’s planning to install 115kW and 150kW systems in Pond Inlet, offsetting tens of thousands of litres of diesel.

He also plans to be back in the Delta before spring break-up to move the Ulukhaktok project along.

“The material is all there,” he said. “We’ll try to do that early.

“We have been doing this more and longer than anyone else.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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