For Immediate Release
Light… In the Middle of Nowhere
Unique Micro-Hydro installation brings off-grid power to Algonquin Eco-Lodge
March 16, 2010 – Markham, ON, Canada – The Algonquin Eco-Lodge – located at the southern tip of Algonquin Provincial Park near Bancroft, ON, Canada – flipped the switch on a unique project that will use the natural power of water to provide electricity for the Lodge. Nestled on the shore of picturesque Moffat Pond the Lodge boasts true tranquillity as guests hike in and regular vehicle traffic is non-existent. However, this peacefulness comes at the cost of being off the power grid.
With a desire to make the Algonquin Eco-Lodge more comfortable for guests, and to be true to the goal of being as eco-friendly as possible, Lodge owner Mr. Robin Banerjee embarked on a challenging mission to set up a simple yet effective means of harnessing energy. Water drawn from Moffat Pond is piped downhill, following the natural course of the waterfall, and is passed through turbines which spin to create electricity. The Micro-Hydro installation now generates more than enough electricity for the Lodge with minimal environmental impact.
“The Micro-Hydro project was a challenge, that’s for sure. However, all of the effort was certainly worthwhile. Now we’ve got the soft glow of light, but we’re in the middle of nowhere,” said Mr. Robin Banerjee, owner of the Algonquin Eco-Lodge. “The goal was to provide the Eco-Lodge with electricity but we didn’t want to be cutting a swath through the forest for power lines! The Micro-Hydro installation has enhanced the stay for our guests – but that doesn’t mean we have TVs or anything!”
Micro-Hydro installations are extremely scarce in Ontario, and even in Canada. While gravity fed hydro-electric projects are common on a larger scale, their use in the lodging/hospitality industry – and especially in such a remote location – are very uncommon. This Micro-Hydro project was completely self-funded as there are no government programs available for small scale commercial hydro projects. The entire project took 5 years to go from concept to completion – 2 years of planning and securing the appropriate permits, a further 2 years for the turbines to be built, and 1 year for installation and renovations.
The Algonquin Eco-Lodge Micro-Hydro installation currently generates 8 kW of power – the amount needed to power 8 average Canadian homes – and will go up to 12 kW next year when the second turbine is fully operational. Mr. Banerjee (a former structural engineer) has calculated that through the use of electricity generated by the Micro-Hydro project, better insulation and less reliance on wood and propane, the Lodge’s greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 7.5 tons per year. Care was taken to minimize any direct environmental impact by locating the water pipe outside of the stream bed and returning all water running through the system back into the stream.
About Algonquin Eco-Lodge
In operation since 2003, the Algonquin Eco-Lodge has been a haven for travellers from Canada and around the globe who wish to experience the Canadian wilderness, but don’t want to rough it. The lodge sleeps 34 in 17 rooms and is a favourite destination for hikers, canoeists, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and dogsledders. It boasts an outdoor, wood fired hot tub and sauna at the waters edge, numerous trails and a serene forest and private lake setting.
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For more information and/or photos of the lodge and the Micro-Hydro project; interviews with Mr. Banerjee; or to set up a visit to the lodge, please contact:Robin Banerjee
Algonquin Eco-Lodge & Call Of The Wild Adventure Consultants
Algonquin Eco-Lodge Micro-Hydro Project Details
– Mink Creek between Moffat Pond and South Little Mink Lake. South eastern tip of Algonquin Park, Ontario.
Length of pipe:
– 150m (450’)
– 20m (60’)
– One 8kW Reverse Pump Turbine
– One 4kW Reverse Pump Turbine
– Both used in winter; Only small turbine used in summer
– 8 kW presently;
– increasing to 12kW when the 2nd turbine goes online;
– seasonal fluctuations – more water (and hence more power) in the winter – 12kW in winter and 4kW in the summer
– pipe is located outside of stream bed
– all diverted water goes back into river
– fire wood consumption reduced by 60%
– propane (lights, water heater, fridge) consumption reduced by 60%
– green house gas reduction of 7.5 tons/year (RETSCREEN – the UN/NASA software)
– Micro-Hydro Installation = $85,000
– Subsequent Lodge renovations = $45,000
Project planning, design, construction:
– Turbine Design & Manufacture: Thomson and Howe Energy Systems, Kimberly, BC
– Electrical Installation & Calibration: SOS Contracting, Maynooth, ON
– Turbine Installation, Powerhouse Assembly, and Pipe Layout: Bamford & Sons, Harcourt, ON