Cowessess First Nation’s wind energy project first of its kind

Construction of Cowessess First Nation´s wind farm, includes erection of an 800 kW Enercon E53 wind turbines connected to a lithium ion battery with 740 kWh of electrical storage.

Construction of a wind power project – the first of its kind in North America – is underway on Cowessess First Nation land four-kilometres east of Regina between the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 33.

“Cowessess has always been a First Nation to put its foot forward, and we’re very pleased to be breaking new ground again,” Cowessess Chief Grady Lerat said in a press release Wednesday.

The $4.7-million project involves the erection of an 800 kW Enercon E53 wind turbine connected to a lithium-ion battery with 740 kWh of electrical storage capacity. Lionel Sparvier, economic development manager for Cowessess First Nation, said the project is one of the first in the world to use a wind turbine in conjunction with a lithium-ion battery. “This is the first one in North America where we’re connecting the turbine to lithium-ion batteries, What we’re trying to do is smooth the flow (of electricity) into the grid.”

If the five-year research project is successful, more wind turbines could be built on Cowessess First Nation. “That’s our hope,” Sparvier said.

The wind turbine will have a hub height of 73 metres and should be visible for those travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway. The project will supply energy into the SaskPower grid through a 20-year power purchase agreement through SaskPower’s Green Options Partners Program.

The Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC) collaborated with Cowessess on the project, providing its expertise in engineering and technical support, as well as project management.

“Large batteries can be used to improve the predict-ability of power production from wind turbines, making it easier to manage intermittent power generation sources,” Sheldon Hill, SRC’s alternative energy unit manager, said in the release. “This project allows SRC and Cowessess … to develop and evaluate a variety of strategies and to demonstrate the potential benefits of coupling energy storage with wind energy.”

Cowessess and SRC have been supported on the project by McNair Business Development Inc. (project and financial management), Willms Engineering (electrical engineering) and Clifton and Associates (civil and geotechnical engineering).

The project is being financed through a $1.8-million equity contribution from Cowessess, $2.8 million in funding and support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) through its Clean Energy Fund, $1.4 million from the Saskatchewan government through its Go Green Fund, $500,000 from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) and financial and technical support from SRC.

With more than 20,000 wind turbines installed in over 30 countries, Enercon is recognized as one of the leading wind turbine manufacturers in the world. The battery system has been supplied by Saft, a world leader in the design and manufacture of advanced technology batteries for industry.