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Feds invest in hydro-electric for farmers

June 26, 2012  By Treena Hein

This image of an installed Archimedes Screw system is courtesy of Greenbug Energy Inc. The company says thousands of these systems are installed in Europe.

On Friday June 22nd, the Harper Government announced that it is investing in a pioneering project that could provide an alternative way to generate on-farm energy and reduce costs.

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Regional Minister for Southwestern Ontario and Member of Parliament (Haldimand—Norfolk) , on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, announced an investment of more than $52,000 for the development and installation of a hydro-electric device designed to harness energy from existing dams on farms.

“Our government is committed to helping producers find ways to boost their bottom lines by identifying new energy sources,” said Minister Finley. “Initiatives like these have the potential to lighten the environmental footprint of farms across Canada, while also saving farmers money.”


The investment will help Norfolk County–based GreenBug Energy Inc. install and operate a test site for its first-in-Canada farm-scale Archimedes Screw Micro Hydro System in the remnants of an old mill beside an existing low-head dam. This high-tech auger-like device, mounted inside a hollow pipe, is built to rotate using the force of the water current and power a dynamo to generate approximately 60,000 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy.

(This is a schematic taken from a Greenbug Energy presentation – see link at bottom.)

Until now, low-head dams have not been used for hydro-electricity due to a lack of cost-effective technology. This run-of-the-river facility using seasonal water flows could provide farmers with the opportunity to better assess and evaluate the waterpower potential of their own dams. If expanded on a larger scale, this system could allow hundreds of farms to reduce their energy costs by taking advantage of the water flows on their properties.

“There are many existing low-head dams across Canada owned by farmers that are well suited to this new technology,” stated Tony Bouk, Vice President of GreenBug Energy Inc. “We are very excited about working with the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC) and an area farmer to demonstrate our system, and about providing the same opportunity to all farmers who also own dams.”

(Here is a map taken from the presentation (link at bottom) by GreenBug Energy. It shows all the locations in southern Ontario where the Archimedes system would work.)

This investment is being provided through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), a five-year (2009–14), $163 million Government initiative that aims to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive. In Ontario, CAAP is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council.

For a Greenbug Energy presentation on the system, visit here.

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