Solar power to help Yukon’s remote grader stations go green

The Yukon government is installing solar arrays to try and reduce the amount of diesel that’s used at its remote maintenance camps. The solar arrays will be installed at two camps up the Dempster Highway, one in Watson Lake and another in Haines Junction. (Yukon Government)

Solar arrays expected to reduce hundreds of tonnes of emissions

The Yukon government is starting to use solar power at grader stations throughout the territory in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Crews at each station are responsible for maintaining highways and roads in their area, and many of the remote locations rely on power from diesel generators.

Jonathan Osborne, a project manager with the territory’s capital development branch, said the Yukon government is hoping the new solar arrays (each one made up of a cluster of solar panels) will keep those generators turned off for 10 or 11 months per year.

“Our goal is to really maximize the downtime of generators at each one of these sites,” said Osborne.

There are 21 grader stations throughout the Yukon, and the territorial government wants to put solar arrays at all of the remote locations as part of its climate action plan named Our Clean Future.

The Oglivie grader station is located 195 kilometers up the Dempster Highway. It is the first camp to have the solar array installed. (Yukon Government)

The Ogilvie grader station, which is nearly 200 kilometres north of the Dempster Corner along the Dempster Highway, is the only camp with solar arrays fully installed so far.

Osborne said arrays are being installed at the Klondike grader station this week, while stations in Haines Junction and Watson Lake will have solar arrays installed throughout the summer.

Osborne said it costs $3 million to install a solar array at a grader station. He said they require a significant amount of groundwork to build and they’re designed to be “bomb proof.” But once installed, he added, the emissions reduction would be worth the cost.

“Each one of these stations is close to 50,000 litres of diesel offset a year,” he said. “So you know as we roll these projects out, we’re looking at offsetting hundreds of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions with just these projects alone.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Tarquti Energy, Hydro-Quebec deal important step towards green energy for Nunavik, Inuit leaders say, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Lapland among regions not in favour of wind power compensation for eastern Finland, Yle News

Iceland: Iceland’s wind power working group calls for input from public, municipalities, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Will the green transition be the new economic motor in the Arctic?, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Wind power to be expanded to all of Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s Northwest Arctic Borough gets $2 million tribal energy grant, Alaska Public Media

Chris MacIntyre, CBC News

Chris MacIntyre is a CBC reporter in Dawson City, Yukon.

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