Recently, representatives from Neqotkuk (also known as Tobique First Nation), Saint John Energy, and Natural Forces joined together for the inauguration of a large battery energy storage system, which is part of the Burchill Wind Project in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Originally announced in the spring of 2022, the Burchill Wind Project partnership is a $95 million Indigenous-led project, which received nearly $50 million in funding from Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program to help deploy the project’s 10 wind turbine generators.

The new battery energy storage system is the largest of its kind in New Brunswick and will help store the intermittent electricity created by Burchill’s 10 wind turbine generators, which generate up to 42 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity to the Saint John Energy grid—even when the wind isn’t blowing. It also helps store extra electricity when the demand is low and helps address peak energy demands during the coldest winter months. The battery system may also help Saint John Energy provide power to customers during power outages due to storm events.

“Renewable electricity can be reliable at all times of the year, thanks to the latest battery storage technology,” said Steven Guilbeault, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “The Government of Canada is committed to helping New Brunswickers access clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. That’s why we are continuing to invest in job‑creating projects such as this, that keep the electricity grid on the cutting edge of green technology.”

The project will support a greener grid in New Brunswick and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting an equitable transition to an electrified economy. Federal funding for the project is provided by Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program. This program is designed to help replace fossil-fuel-generated electricity with renewable energy, battery storage, and grid modernization solutions. Budget 2023 increased the total Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program budget to $4.5 billion, in order to support critical regional priorities, Indigenous-led projects, and add transmission projects to the program’s eligibility. This program is actively supporting Canada’s ongoing transition to a net-zero economy by 2050.

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“One of our traditional values as a nation is to take care of the environment. Green energy projects are going to start taking over, and they’re going to dominate, and that’s the way of the future,” said Chief Ross Perley of Tobique First Nation.

The battery project is the largest battery in New Brunswick. It consists of a 5.8 megawatt / 11.6 megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery that can deliver 5.8 megawatts of energy to the Saint John Energy grid for a two-hour period on a full charge.

“This energy storage project is an important step in our work on climate action and our determination to be a national utility leader in the transition to net zero,” said Ryan Mitchell, president and chief executive officer of Saint John Energy. “To fight climate change, we all need to come together to find solutions. We’re grateful to the Government of Canada and our partners for making this project a reality.”

Funding comes from Natural Resources Canada’s Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program, which will provide $4.5 billion until 2035 for smart renewable energy and electrical grid modernization projects.

Featured image: On March 11, 2024, representatives from Neqotkuk First Nation, Natural Forces and Saint John Energy cut the ribbon on the battery storage system, the largest of its kind in New Brunswick. Credit: Saint John Energy/Environment and Climate Change Canada/Facebook.

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