The Sci’anew Beecher Bay Band will receive $40,000 in funding from the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund with the intent to heat the Spirit Bay development utilizing ocean thermal energy. The sum will be used to explore how heat can be utilized from the cold of the ocean using pumps and heat exchangers. This process, called ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), uses the difference in temperature between cooler deep and warmer surface water to generate heat and produce electricity.
Chief Russell Chipps, of the Sci’anew (Cheanuh) Band said, “the people of Beecher Bay were born and raised down in Cheanuh and we lived 100 per cent off the ocean. From the time we were children, we would be out there fishing and gathering seafood. It only makes sense to us now that we are looking to be a net generator of energy using thermal energy from the ocean to heat Spirit Bay, our new town. We want to use the funds to create a sustainable utility that creates healthy living and jobs for our community.”
If the ocean thermal energy project is deemed feasible at Spirit Bay, it will incorporate a heating exchange system that enables homes and hot water heated by the ocean thermal process to be integrated into the village. The only current OTEC plant in operation is in Japan.
“First Nations are emerging as leaders in the development of clean energy projects. By exploring the potential of using the ocean to help heat coastal homes, the Beecher Bay Band and the Trust for Sustainable Development (TSD) are among the forerunners in B.C. who are working to find new and renewable sources of clean energy” said John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.
The cooperation between the Cheanuh Band and the Trust for Sustainable Development in the Spirit Bay project is coming to fruition. When completed over the next 10 years, it is expected to have up to 800 mixed residential units as well as a town centre with offices, shops, and recreational facilities on 40 hectares.
The vision of incorporating sustainability into the town’s core design and infrastructure will also assist the economic life of the town.
David Butterfield the co-founder of TSD said, “The basis of our relationship is trust and collaboration. Beecher Bay First Nation made it clear that sustainability was their first priority. We are excited to start construction and demonstrate what that means in practice for the community, the economy and the environment.”