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Sooke oyster barge converts to solar power

Federal grant allowed for T’sou-ke First Nation to upgrade barge
A look at the solar panels that power the TXIT Shellfish Company’s environmentally friendly oyster barge retrofitted by Shift Energy Group. (contributed)

The shift from gasoline to sunshine is a winning proposition for a local First Nations company and the environment.

The company, which is owned by the T’sou-ke First Nation, manages an oyster farm in the Sooke Basin within the T’Sou-ke territory where they raise oysters for market sales from seedlings.

Until recently, the TXIT Shellfish Company used a medium-sized gasoline generator to operated a barge anchored in the middle of Sooke Basin that sorts, cleans and grades oysters from an oyster farm.

That changed when the company applied for and received a federal grant from the Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program to assist in the financing for a marine floating off-grid solar power conversion.

“The conversion to solar power will provide an environmental benefit by reducing dependence on fuel sources and establish a more reliable, climate and ocean-friendly alternative to power our equipment on the water,” said TXIT farm manager Blake Barton.

A look at some of the equipment that powers the TXIT Shellfish Company’s environmentally friendly oyster barge retrofitted by Shift Energy Group. (contributed)

Shift Energy Group designed and installed a solar-powered energy system that utilizes solar panels, batteries and an inverter that provides all the power needed for the barge.

Steve Unger, lead engineer for Shift Energy Group, said the gasoline-powered method was very noisy and created fumes.

“It’s not good for the environment, and it’s expensive too, when you consider the cost of running 25-gallon jerry cans of gasoline out to the barge to keep the equipment running,” he noted.

Colwood-based Shift Energy Group has been in operation for 12 years and is the largest solar power installer in B.C., with projects ranging from residential and commercial to off the grid.

A look at the TXIT Shellfish Company’s environmentally friendly oyster barge, which was retrofitted by Shift Energy Group. (contributed)

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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