A proposed state-of-the-art wind power project could significantly reduce the amount of diesel used for power in the town of Nain, the northernmost permanent settlement in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The wind-powered microgrid project, now in the engineering phase, is a partnership between the Nunatsiavut government and Natural Forces, a power producer based in Nova Scotia.

If everything goes as planned, the project will be running by the summer of 2022, producing up to 2.3 megawatts of wind energy for the community of 1,100 residents.

Nunatsiavut regional energy co-ordinator Nick Mercer said the Nain project will be the first renewable energy microgrid of its size in the Canadian Arctic.

“This is an ambitious project,” Mercer told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. “It’s not meant to cut back five to 10 per cent of the diesel in the community. It’s a large-scale project which is supposed to make a significant dent in the amount of fuel that’s being consumed in Nain.”

It’s expected the project will reduce diesel consumption by at least one-third in the northern town, displacing about one million litres per year.

Nain, like every community on the northern Labrador coast, isn’t connected to the electrical grid and residents rely on diesel for power. Recent figures from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro show the community consumes approximately 2.7 million litres annually, about 2,250 litres per person, excluding diesel burned for home heating.

The federal government, which is providing funding for the project through the clean energy for rural and remote communities program, has committed to getting remote Indigenous communities off diesel by 2030.