Solar Wind Reliance Initiatives Ltd. (SWRI) is a company to help bring clean electricity to remote communities (which are small villages, towns or hamlets that are far away from larger settlements or lack suitable transportation, ie. roads).
We created SWRI based on one puzzle: why has Canada invested billions of dollars in diesel electricity grids that are increasing costs, driving people into poverty and worsening health?
In Canada there are 292 remote communities, mostly dependent upon increasingly costly diesel fuel.
In Nunavut every community is dependent upon diesel, which has caused electricity to cost as much as 8 times higher than in Ontario.
20 percent of the average Canadian’s monthly expenses are their mortgage payments, while in Nunavut 35 percent of household expenses are used just for the monthly diesel-electricity bill.
The energy cost has pushed families into poverty and, with diesel prices forecasted to rise another 78% by 2030 and most diesel grids being in “dire need” of immediate replacement, the diesel expense is continuing to rise.
With over-expensive diesel dependence, if you had been born in a remote community you would likely live below the poverty line, in overcrowded public housing, never have a family doctor, and struggle from a completely preventable health condition- such as lung disease due to breathing diesel fumes.
Why then has Canada continued to invest in more exorbitant and hazardous diesel electricity?
Is the issue that there is no funding for these Canadians to switch from diesel?
Not at all. There is over 28 billion dollars in Canadian funding unused from previous years or budgeted for the next twelve years that can pay for most of these remote communites’ non-diesel clean energy installation. This money largely remains untouched for renewable energy.
There are over 1.2 billion people living in remote communities in these conditions globally, having an outsized contribution to pollution and health issues. Worldwide there is over 100 billion dollars of grants, subsidies and other public financing methods to help remote communities. This money too has been largely left untouched.
Why aren’t conventional renewable energy companies taking this money?
Is the issue that there is no public support to continue these grants?
84% of Canadians want the government to continue vigorous investment in renewable energy, and support is rising. The vast majority of Canadians support the Paris Agreement, for a 30 percent GHG (green house gases) reduction. The Paris Agreement has the support of nearly every Canadian MP. All three of Canada’s major federal parties and their leaders have voted in favour of keeping the Paris Agreement, to increasing renewable energy investment and diminishing greenhouse gases substantially by 2030.
Environmental laws have dominated Canadian and global legislation. Thousands of citizen, civil society and corporate lawsuits have been going through levels of governments, aimed at instituting environmental safety as a constitutional human right. Environmental protection, and the fighting of global warming, has successfully been found a constitutional right in many states and provinces, including in much of Europe.
The largest portion of greenhouse gases are caused by remote communities, making them crucial to federal goals. In a global environmental analysis Nunavut has been named “the worst offender of greenhouse gases”. Iqaluit’s 7,000 people, alone, contribute 60,000 tons of GHG each year, more than 1,200,000 tons over 20 years- which is equivalent to 13,000 cars running year-round, every adult running three cars all day unattended all year.
On top of this, shifting from diesel-burning is instrumental to improve the health crisis in remote communities, which sees the average remote communities’ life expectancy more than 10 years lower than the national average- in Nunavut the average person lives 2 years less than the average person in North Korea.
Heavy domestic support, majority support among key allies, international pressure, legal constraint, significant relative environmental impact, diesel-burning induced health problems, and lack of economic opportunity affected by unreliable and toxic electricity establish remote communities’ clean energy investment as a longterm priority and necessity.
Is the issue that there is no renewable energy technology that can help?
Until recently, yes. There are many smaller problems and 2 major problems preventing renewable energy companies from being able to fully replace diesel generators affordably for remote communities.
Seasonal Fluctuation. Remote communities are so interspersed they must have their own small grid without connection to a larger grid system. Since conventional renewable energy companies, like those used in the rest of Canada and the U.S., rely on a single source of energy (ie. sun or wind) their energy production varies significantly between seasons, so solar produces more energy in the summer and much less in the winter, and the opposite for wind. Conventional renewable energy relies on a larger grid to provide enough energy to meet demand for the 4-6 months of the year when they are under producing. Consider the images in the slideshow below, the dotted line for wind and the 4 for solar are people’s actual energy needs throughout the year. Conventional renewable energy makes too much or too little, not equal to the demand.
Expensive Battery Storage. If conventional renewable energy units aren’t connected to a grid wth hydro or coal or some other form of energy, they have to invest in a lot of batteries. Longterm battery storage from the overproducing periods (summer for solar) would have to be saved for the 4-6 months of underproduction, which makes conventional renewable energy companies impractical and exorbitantly expensive.
For the 7,000 people of Iqaluit, to store overproduced energy from November to power just one quarter of the December energy needs would, at absolute minimum, cost US$ 599 million, or 77 thousand dollars paid by every person in the city before investing a dime into the renewable energy units. Exorbitant energy battery storage cost make conventional renewable energy incapable of providing for remote communities.
Some hundreds of people living below the poverty line with most of their government budget reliant on subsidizing diesel fuel for the year, can’t afford conventional renewable energy units’ unreasonable expense.
Conventional renewable energy companies know their units are too crude and primitive to make a profit in remote communities, so they rarely try.
But there is an opportunity to avoid all 3 major issues and make renewable energy work for remote communities
SWRI renewable energy was created to fill this market gap.
The SWRI team has created unique, innovative designs that optimally utilize both vertical axis wind turbines and concentrated solar energy to consistently match supply to demand, remove problematic seasonal variation and to trim battery storage costs as low as possible.
SWRI plans to role out six unit types of varying sizes, with two to seven rows of concentrated solar panels (with a curved or parabolic shape instead of flat to focus heat), above which are the thermal engines, above which is a vertical axis wind turbine (imagine a large spiral), all of which is 20 to 60 feet tall (in contrast to conventional horizontal turbines, which are up to 160 meters or 525 feet tall), as shown in the drawing below.
Proven by Joakim Widén’s 8-year study and subsequent follow-up studies, a negative correlation exists between solar and wind energy, meaning there is more wind energy when it is less sunny and more solar energy when there is less wind, causing both forms of energy to work in conjunction so that if used together effectively there can be consistent demand-providing energy year-round. SWRI does just that.
For the past five year SWRI have worked our way through a list of issues with conventional renewable energy units, to have a solution to each major and minor problem, to solve the energy crisis for remote communities.
While conventional renewable energy companies have a 4-6 month period producing less than demand, SWRI has only two brief day periods of the year coming close to potential battery need when minor battery storage could be needed. SWRI cuts battery storage needs significantly, making renewable energy finally capable of fully replacing diesel for remote communities.
SWRI improves health effects relative to conventional renewable energy:
By decreasing the wind resistance against blades, from up to 80 meters to less than 1 meter, there is significantly less noise, down to the equivalent of a “babbling brook”, and SWRI avoids the health issues to populations living or working nearby that are found with conventional large horizontal wind turbines.
By crucially decreasing the risk of water contamination, relative to conventional units, by having much more compact and contained foundations- essential in arctic areas based on frozen tundra and ice that is regularly melting and flowing into main water sources.
SWRI cuts cost, matches demand and increases capacity of its hybrid units through:
singular light-weight wind-foil design
utilizing an enhanced thermal engine
preventing snow-buildup by concentration of solar heat
substantially decreasing wind resistance to minimize wear and tear
avoiding water damage to solar cells
maintaining better stability and balance, even in arctic conditions
cutting foundation cost by making them smaller and more contained
having units that direct solar energy onto a focal point to maximize solar energy
minimizing solar cell damage and improving durability
rigorously maintaining lowest cost to high output materials
allowing units to be densely packed for highest output, rather than needing to be 150 meters apart like conventional wind turbines
allowing wind turbines to collect energy even in low wind speeds
decreasing battery storage costs by three-quarters that of conventional technology
bringing up the output efficiency from the highest conventional company average of 18 percent per year to over 36.7 percent. SWRI doubles overall capacity.
All these benefits are great, but how much does it cost for a remote community?
Finally there is enough financial benefit to switch to renewable energy
Consider Iqaluit, home to 7,000 people. From year one of switching to SWRI units and thereon SWRI units save the town 96% of its yearly energy maintenance and fuel expense, from the previous annual cost of 33.4 million dollars down to an SWRI annual cost of 1.25 million dollars. There is a payback period of just over 7 years.
20 years after switching from diesel to SWRI units Iqaluit will have seen the total energy cost cut by more than 405 million dollars, equivalent to the cost of a new state-of-the-art hospital. Whereas the total diesel cost for 20 years would be 668 million dollars, SWRI’s 20 year total cost is only 226 million dollars. Using SWRI individual families monthly cost goes down by 85%, from a high of 114 cents per kW/h to an SWRI high of 18 cents per kW/h.
All these costs are decreased further over, practical, longer-term periods.
By switching to SWRI remote community governments and families can make substantial savings, which can instead be invested in improving health and education and economic opportunity, while the cost to taxpayers goes down and profit margin goes up.
Checkout our numbers and sources behind this page and in-depth project cos breakdowns for more thorough information on the “Details” page below, learn more About Us, and Contact Us to receive updates on our progress or ask questions or become a partner.
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Disclaimer: These statements reflect management’s current views, do not include potential inflation adjustments or changes in material cost among other factors, and are meant for illustrative purposes. They do not represent guarantees of future results, levels of activity, performance, or achievements, all of which cannot be made.