Microgrid integration for renewables | BC Hydro

Challenge Synopsis:

Reducing diesel used for the generation of electricity in BC’s remote communities that are not connected to the integrated system is a priority for BC Hydro and the Government of BC. A program aimed at increasing community-owned generation is underway. These community owned clean energy projects must be integrated with existing diesel generation that will generally be used for co-generation or, in some cases, as backup to the renewable. BC Hydro is seeking grid-side technologies for remote communities in British Columbia which can be integrated into existing diesel micro-grids to cost-effectively maximize the output of renewable generation while maintaining reliability and stability of the co-generating diesel systems.



Integrating renewables into existing diesel microgrids without large battery storage and microgrid control systems is difficult. Maximizing renewable generation means that existing generators are required to change setpoints frequently and may be forced to run at sub-optimal levels that affect performance and maintenance.
These systems are intended for BC’s remote communities. For context, this could mean that there is no road access (boat or barge only), or access via 12 hours of driving on gravel logging roads. Connectivity and Internet access may not be reliable for troubleshooting, and systems should not require an unreasonable amount of maintenance.
The preferred renewable generation technologies for remote communities in British Columbia are solar, small hydro (including run-of-river), biomass combined heat and power, and to some extent, wind. The solution should keep these technologies in mind.
The following paper is a good representation of the issues with integrating renewables with fixed-speed diesel generators:


Response Criteria:

  • The ideal solution will be a packaged technology that can be added to an existing diesel generation station without affecting the financial viability of the renewable energy project.
  • Solutions that are in-scope could include: variable-speed generators, battery storage systems designed specifically to address peak load management, or similar technologies that can maximize renewable output.
  • Solutions should be cost-effective, and simple to operate and maintain with remote-community operation in mind.
  • Novel solutions that improve grid optimization, integration and management, as well as storage with demonstrable impact on lowering overall cost of renewable energy for remote communities will also be considered.
  • Large battery/microgrid storage solutions are out of scope until such time that a cost-effective storage system is available.
  • For this challenge, BC Hydro is not looking for generation technologies, but rather complementary technologies that improve economic and technical outcomes of community-owned renewable technology projects.


The Opportunity:

  • Diesel generation is widely used across the globe to generate power in remote communities due to its reliability and ability to follow community load profiles.
  • 100% displacement of diesel with renewables is not always possible, or desirable, and the integration issue has become a major roadblock in achieving GHG reductions.
  • Enabling remote communities to build and operate renewable energy has many benefits including health and wellness, GHG reduction, capacity building, and economic benefits. Companies that solve the integration problem would benefit from participating in the large social and economic benefits that these projects bring.
  • UNDRIP has set the stage for governments and utilities to assist in the development of Indigenous-owned energy projects and there is significant funding available to support these projects.
  • Access to new customers and markets.
  • Opportunity to pitch your solution (if selected) to BC Hydro.


About BC Hydro:

BC Hydro is a Crown corporation, owned by the Government and people of British Columbia, Canada. It’s our job to generate, and to purchase, reliable, affordable electricity for our customers. As a Provincial Crown corporation, the owner and sole shareholder of BC Hydro is the Province of British Columbia. We report through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low-Carbon Innovation with a mandate to generate, manufacture, conserve, supply, acquire, and dispose of power and related products. BC Hydro currently supplies power and backup power to remote communities through the use of diesel generators.