Churchill Wild enhances environmental stewardship programs with installation of VBINE Vertical Access Wind Turbines at northern eco-lodges
Now they’re enhancing their environmental stewardship programs even further with the installation of Vertical Access Wind Turbines (VAWTs) manufactured by VBINE ENERGY in Winkler, Manitoba.
The combined power generated by the VAWTs and the solar panels currently in place at their eco-lodges will virtually eliminate the need to use fossil fuels at Seal River Heritage Lodge, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, North Knife Lake Lodge and Dymond Lake Lodge.
Generators will still be in place for backup power, but the combination of the current solar-panel system combined with VAWTs is expected to provide for almost, if not all, their power needs in the future.
“The beauty of it is that we have a battery storage system,” said Mike Reimer of Churchill Wild. “The power generated from the VAWTs and the solar panels is stored in the batteries and we draw off of them. And they’re eco-friendly and economical. There’s less noise pollution, less of a carbon footprint and we’ll be paying substantially less than the $1-$1.30 per kilowatt it costs for diesel generated power.”
The VAWTs were invented by Barry Ireland about six years ago and refined by an engineering team. Their showcase installations include the Dr. David Suzuki Public School in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, but the rugged VAWTs were also designed to work in remote northern locations.
“They were originally designed to work on smokestacks and silos,” said Ireland. “We had to build them so that the center wouldn’t rotate. We also had remote communication towers in mind when we built them. Many of those towers are powered by diesel and the VAWTs cut costs by quite a bit. That also means they will be popular with many northern lodges and outfitters.”
VBINE is currently working with Canadian Solar on a combination wind/solar solution that will work for northern communities.
“VAWTs are generating a large amount of interest because of the significant cost savings that can be realized,” said Ireland. “And the fact that the big windmills won’t work in the north. They ice up, they have too much vibration and they won’t go into the permafrost. The VAWTs are the only ones that will work up north.”
VAWTs mount easily on existing buildings; they’re only two meters in width; they’re quiet and they’re suitable for grid tie-in or battery storage. And because of the vertical design, VAWTs can take wind from any direction. They start generating power at wind speeds of 1.2 meters per second and run 24/7 generating 5 kilowatts of power with a 25 mph wind. They have a permanent magnet generator with two long-life bearings, no drive shaft and no slips springs or brushes. The lifespan of the VAWTs is estimated at 30 years with very little maintenance. Their sleek design also minimizes interference with wildlife.
The first of the Churchill Wild VAWTs were hauled up to Seal River Heritage Lodge last week via CAT train (caterpillar pulling a freight sled) across the Hudson Bay sea ice, which is still about six feet thick.
Hauling tons of freight across the Hudson Bay ice in -20 degree weather is actually better than doing it at 0 degrees. The ice can get sticky and wet in warm weather, making for dangerous conditions. While there is generally no immediate danger from polar bears, which are still further out on the ice filling up on seals before the ice melts, the weather can still cause problems.
“The wind chills can get to as low as -40,” said Reimer. “And there’s always the possibility of blizzards, flooding sea ice and slush holes. CATS have actually gone through the ice on a couple of occasions.”
The trip takes about 15 hours from Dymond Lake Lodge to Seal River Heritage Lodge and Churchill Wild utilizes one of their two CAT track-type tractors, 1956 and 1972 models built by Caterpillar. But how fast does that CAT really go?
“About two miles an hour downhill with a tailwind,” said Reimer.
To learn more about how VBINE ENERGY VAWTs can benefit your operations and goals for a greener future, please visit http://www.VBINE.com, call their head office at (204) 325-0228 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
So often news stories involving polar bears consist of experts predicting the end of our beloved polar bear. Doom & gloom is effective in an awareness campaign but never fun to hear about.
So how about some positive news from waaaay up north? Well… positive for polar bears and possibly ice caps (not to be confused with the popular Canadian “Iced Capp”).
It seems Alaska is getting a lot of the white stuff this year. According to meteorologist Shaun Baines, Sarah Palin’s home state is on track for snowiest winter on record:
About 150 miles to the southeast (of Anchorage), the Prince William Sound community of Cordova, which has already been buried under 172 inches of snow since November, could get another 7 inches today
… It has been difficult to keep up with the shovelling – and 8ft walls of snow line either side of her driveway. After snow fell off her roof she cannot see out either the front or back of her house.
… If it keeps up, Anchorage is on track to have the snowiest winter ever, surpassing the previous record of 132.8 inches in 1954-55, meteorologist Shaun Baines said.
Snowboarding anyone? All we can say is “Wow”…
Hopefully the Hudson Bay polar bears that hang out at Seal River Heritage Lodge don’t decide to relocate to Alaska. We’ll have to make sure we don’t mention this to them.
Elsewhere there have been numerous news stories and YouTube videos of polar bear cubs popping up. We’ve posted a few to our Facebook page but this one was an absolute cuddly little doll! The latest comes out of the Scandinavian Wildlife Park and appeared in the Washington Post’s “Kids Post” section.
Meet Siku! Internet sensation!
This baby polar bear was born November 22 at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Kolind, Denmark. But because his mother couldn’t produce milk to feed the cub…
Keepers named the cub Siku, which means “sea ice.”
Well, I guess there is little extra “sea ice” this year after all. Always good news.
The valiant Prince William came to Canada recently to show off his new bride Kate. There was a huge media blitz and Canadians were genuinely excited and gracious hosts.
Churchill Wild sent out the invitation but we did not make the itinerary. Maybe next time. We’re sure there are many Seal River alumni (see our Trip Advisor reviews) that would vouch for the suitability of our lodge.
During their whirlwind tour of our homeland the Premier of Northwest Territories gifted the royal couple some fabulous polar bear bling.
Some people are making a fuss about it. We think it was a nice gesture:
We wonder if the Churchill Wild logo would look good encrusted with diamonds. The polar bear brooch is worth around $30,000 dollars (19,000 British pounds). A Churchill Wild limited edition logo brooch? We may never know…
Finally, no scan of the news for “polar bears” is ever complete without one of these:
Yes – every year around this time people strip down and brave the frigid waters for their local “polar bear club”. It is hilarious to watch from the warm comfort of your recliner in front of the television.
While we have to commend those brave souls who peel and dive into the cold water we find ourselves contemplating the addition of our own “polar bear challenge” during the Great Ice Bear Adventure at Dymond Lake EcoLodge.
Nahhh… wouldn’t be a big seller. That’s what Dymond Lake looks like when it starts freezing up in October/November (sans swimmer and umbrella). Floating balls of ice. Wanna jump in?
Actually, when Churchill Wild’s guests get into the water in the summer for a beluga swim the Hudson Bay waters are just as cold (or colder) than what most “polar bear clubs” would experience. Wanna try it? That’s our extremely popular Birds, Bears & Belugas Adventure which takes place during July and August at the Seal River Heritage Lodge.
Our guests wear heavily insulated dry suits to keep them from freezing up. This photo is courtesy of Mark Seth Lender who was up last summer for our Birds, Bears & Belugas Adventure. Mark has a series of blog posts on his site about his time at the lodge. They are accompanied by some incredible pictures. Check them out.
Mark has a syndicated column and is a frequent contributor to Living on Earth (PRI) a nationally syndicated radio program on NPR. He’s putting the final touches on his Churchill Wild segments and they will be airing in the coming months. Stay in touch with us through our newsletter, blog, Facebook and Twitter for air dates.
That’s all for this time. Thanks for reading.
Text and photos by Nolan Booth
We pieced together some of our notes to describe a week in the life of Dymond Lake Lodge at the Great Ice Bear Adventure. We’re always happy when Mother Nature cooperates with good weather and plenty of polar bears, but we know full well that she is always in charge!
This week’s guests are a very interesting and diverse group of Swiss, English and New Zealanders. They took a day to start talking, but the polar bear action really helped. They definitely feel special to have had one bear travel all the way home with them and walk right past the camp, and another sleeping 25 feet from their front window. They’ll be telling these stories forever…
The weather has gone from warm to cold and snowy and back over the last few days. It’s windy now and the snow is melting. Our Inuit couple, Peter and Mary, who graciously offered to visit Dymond Lake to teach our guests a little bit about their culture and their way of life, have been working hard. Peter is constantly carving antlers into tools, toys and games. Mary is always cooking bannock or sewing.
The Inuit couple have set up a summer tupik to show us what they would live in while traveling and hunting during the summer months in the north. The tupik is constructed of about 20 caribou hides and long skinny timbers.
Today Peter surprised me and built a one man igloo with the little snow we have. He shoveled a small pad on the ground and then cut blocks from a snow drift that had formed behind one of the cabins. As expected, the little snow hut is quite warm once you get in and block off the door. It takes nothing more than a candle and some body heat to stay warm inside.
No polar bear sightings yet but all guests are sleeping and I can hear “Mr. Big” back behind the garage. Right now our igloo blocks have shrunk by half so it may turn into a doghouse unless it gets colder soon. Busy day checking all systems, everything is running smooth. Just have to get rid of the Martin in the garage. He keeps eating anything that’s fuzzy.
Six polar bears today – amazing how things change, but once again, Mother Nature dictates the pace up here. A mom and two cubs hanging around the wind sock; a big male circling camp all day; two 3-year-old bears dancing on the ice outside the dining room. Tonight we took the guests out with the spotlight after dinner just to hear the bears sparring – thumping each other, their claws scraping the cracking ice in the dark – eerie and amazing.
New group of guests in today and the polar bears are already here. All outgoing guests are extremely happy. Sam (our dog) got to show off his skills tonight after another bear walked right across the step of my cabin while Peter was on his way outside to have a cigarette. I told him he now has a choice between smoking or getting eaten by a polar bear that has now patterned him and knows that he comes out every couple of hours. He says he’ll take his chances… and keeps me laughing while dancing around the cabin yelling “Polar Bear! Polar Bear! Polar Bear!” over and over.
Just came back and had a bear sleeping on the road 20 feet from the Wilson cabin. Woke everyone up and they had a great first day. Thirty photo-ops, lights on and off, then informed the guests I would have to chase the bear off later so that I wouldn’t have to sleep in their cabin tonight. The big bear is now sleeping and doesn’t even notice me yelling at him. Guests had a good laugh and in the end the bear did too. One screamer and two crackers had him sleeping 200 yards back in the bush. George and Sam are on high alert while I sleep… until George gets me up to see the northern lights… Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a nap in.
I think we have five different bears visiting us regularly and they have become more active over the past few days. One is big and I was standing 30 feet from him last night. He does not like it when I yell at him and for now I’m hoping it stays that way because the garage door he was prying at doesn’t stand a chance.
More bears today, banging on the garage, walking between the cabins, interrupting my speech. The guests love it but George does not like the bears looking into his bedroom. Tonight I will get little sleep. The big polar bear is walking around the cabin again. Thank goodness for the compound fence and George or I wouldn’t get any sleep.
Four wolves at the end of the runway, not sticking around but will be back. Five polar bears roamed passed the compound fence before the sun came up and one decided to stay awhile… sleeping 10 feet from the fence.
Good morning Mr. Big!