Energy Systems

Philosophy 

Fircom’s remote location provides guests with the unique experience of being “off the grid”, but also the luxury of everyday amenities. We are responsible for providing our own clean drinking water, sanitation, heat and energy.

Fircom is committed to setting an example in how we provide these amenities by reducing our diesel consumption and the carbon we release into the atmosphere. This means thoughtful design of all systems that rely on electricity, as well as teaching staff, guests and kids about energy conservation strategies. 

We are constantly looking to improve our practices, use less, and implement more sources of renewable power generation. We encourage everyone who visits Fircom to apply our philosophy of using less in their everyday lives.

Our site is available to provide an educational demonstration site for guests and organizations. We welcome the opportunity to give educational tours of our energy system.

History

Building Fircom's renewable energy system has been an incremental process. Since 1923, Fircom has been an off-grid experience. Many staff and guests through the 1970's right up to the end of the century would experience Fircom in a very different way. At ten PM every evening, the lights would blink out as we shut down the generators, silence would wrap around the entire site, and the darkness would make a sea of stars burst out of the sky.

In 2010 we re-opened our doors with a complete site renovation, a brand new power system, and 24 hour electricity to offer our guests. The system met the needs, but it was far from sustainable. It was a stepping stone toward sustainability. Since then, we have been making improvements to the system that are reducing the number of hours that we are required to operate our diesel generators. The dream is to silence the generators once and for all; to be 90% renewably powered by 2020. We still like to turn out all the lights at about ten pm and watch the stars.

Future Plans 

So what are the next steps in this incremental process of providing renewable power to Fircom?

Our next plan is to pursue installation of a 5.5 kilowatt turbine on Fircom Creek to capture some of the energy of the rushing water, and turn it into electricity. Based on our studies, this could supply 75-100% of our winter-time electrical needs. This translates into replacing an average of 10 generator hours per day from October to April; that's 50 litres of diesel per day for 180 days, 9,000 litres, or 24 tonnes of CO2. That's a beautiful complement to our summer-use solar panels. We estimate that completing this project would save $8,000 to $10,000 in fuel annually.This project will cost in the neighbourhood of $45,000 - $65,000 to complete. So far we have a generous commitment from the Nickle Family Foundation for the first $7,200. This will get us off to a good start and will move us through the engineering and permitting processes.

We are looking forward  to the 2017 installation of a new battery set and an additional 35kW of solar panels to supplement our spring, summer and fall power production.


Friends and Partners

Our ability to inspire and educate guests about renewable energy  has only been possible thanks to the generous support, advice and funding of our friends and partners. If you would like to learn more about our energy system or take a tour contact our site manager Neil Carrodus