Empowering First Nations with Green Power
The anishinaabe people are revered as “keepers of mother earth”; so why not lead by example? My vision is to start a trend of green power to remote areas, starting with first nation reserves. Green power will be collected by using a combination of solar and wind, stored, then distributed to several nearby residences. This will help people in remote areas by obtaining clean, reliable power, boost local economies and reduce the impact of climate change on the earth.
Green power can have a negative impact on the environment as well. Darker objects attract the sun increasing temperatures in those areas creating heat islands. If more people opt for green energy using solar panels in high population areas, the result will be increased temperatures in the surrounding area. From statistics Canada website, (Canada, G. O.), Ontario has a population of 12.8 million people across an area of 908,608 km2, while there are approximately 74,400 anishinaabe people living in reserves are scattered throughout Ontario. For this reason, I believe these systems will be more practical in Northern Ontario. Northern Ontario has a lower population density and by using wind power as the primary source it will minimize the impact of heat islands and result in an overall greater benefit for the environment.
This would be a benefit to individuals on the reserve in several ways. Not only will this help lower the cost of monthly bills for other necessities, it can provide cleaner power to areas where power is substandard or under serviced. It can be an economic boost to the northern Ontario economy. Jobs can be created to install and maintain the micro power generation and distribution stations, as well as, temporary jobs to design and build the structures required, manufacturing, etc. A good portion of these jobs can be first nation jobs where the unemployment rate is higher.
Environmental benefits will be observed as well. Green energy will help reduce the carbon footprint to those individuals. Additionally, monitoring can be performed to ensure power demands are met and provide data for similar systems, weather conditions, equipment performance and the environmental impact. This would be vital for research and development of new technology and biologists to monitor the impact of green energy on the surrounding wildlife. As the “doomsday clock” ticks towards midnight and the need for power increases, the quicker we need to act to lower our greenhouse emissions. By starting a community power project that services remote areas, other communities can see the benefit and continue the trend.
When I answered people that I was taking civil engineering technologist at school, the first question that typically came next is, what is a civil engineer? My analogy to them was it’s like a doctor there’s lots of types of doctors but civil engineers deal with infrastructure projects like buildings, roads and other structures. The education I received taught me how to gather all the requirements to plan, design and build a community and maintaining it. Although power wasn’t the focus it is typically one of the first stages of building. Once a project is complete, you go over everything once again and try to find inefficiencies and if you can’t fix it in the current project, you apply it to the next. With my vision, communities are already established and by taking another look, we can improve things by supplying green power.
This will start with a medium sized system that will provide enough power for a single home. Power generation is monitored through meters and recorded. Once it has proven to be efficient, I will add in extra residences to the limit of the power generated. This would also be the time to add any extra solar panels or storage devices that will be required.