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Heat pumps used to dry seaweed, an unexpected benefit from the energy pilot project

Rudri Bhatt, Research and Analysis Lead, Community Energy, Ecotrust Canada

Rudri Bhatt is a summer student researcher with Ecotrust Canada. (SHANNON LOUGH /ECOTRUST CANADA)

In June 2019, the Community Energy team visited Bella Bella to conduct a review on our heat pump pilot study. We had the opportunity of going house to house with a local Indigenous woman, and talk to people personally about the heat pumps, and the heating and energy concerns of their homes.

I am the Research and Analysis Lead of the Community Energy team at Ecotrust Canada, responsible for the technical and cost analysis aspects of energy security for First Nations and rural communities. Currently, I am an MSc student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC. I am a Civil and Environmental Engineer by training and am passionate toward finding simple engineering solutions to empowering communities toward energy equity and access to clean energy.

I was very touched by how friendly everyone was in Bella Bella. People warmly welcomed us into their homes and took the time to answer all of our questions. In one house that we visited the person was using the air from the heat pumps to dry fresh seaweed. Who knew that the heat pumps could have such a diverse use? The gentleman was also very kind to give us a generous amount of that seaweed.

While on a trip in June 2019 to review the 2018 Heat Pump project, Rudri Bhatt was surprised to see one man was using the heaters to dry fresh seaweed. (RUDRI BHATT / ECOTRUST CANADA)

When talking to residents about their heating comfort, we realized that they greatly valued the heat pumps. Listening to residents talk about heating their homes with an oven and paying disproportionately high electricity bills before the installation of heat pumps made us realize how small efforts like these can improve the quality of living. The overall visit provided me with great motivation to work harder, as well as a sense of pride to be involved with Ecotrust Canada and this project.

[Published on July 25, 2019]