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Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities: BioHeat, Demonstration & Deployment Streams Frequently Asked Questions

  • Program Eligibility

    1. What communities are considered ‘rural’ or ‘remote’?
    A1. “Rural” is defined as a community with a population of fewer than 5,000 people and a population density of fewer than 400 people per square kilometre and not connected to the North American piped natural gas network. “Remote community” refers to a community not currently connected to the North American electrical grid nor to the piped natural gas network, and which is a permanent or long-term (5 years or more) settlement with at least 10 dwellings.

    2. Is this definition of rural flexible, for example if the community has between 5000 – 7000 people?
    A2. Our Bioheat and Capacity Building components include rural communities only with populations of less than 5000 persons. If the community is Indigenous, we encourage you to contact us by email for information on other possible programs.

    3. How do I determine if my community is eligible?
    A3. Please refer to the first question and answer that defines “rural communities” and “remote communities”.

    Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Remote Community Energy Database is the reference for all eligible remote communities. Please note that the database does not currently contain information on rural communities. If you believe any information about your community is incorrect, please contact NRCan at  

    4. Will rural communities primarily using electricity for heat (ie. not diesel) be eligible for bioheat stream?­
    A4. If the electricity used for heating is produced from either diesel or another fossil fuel, a project that switches to heating from renewable sources would be eligible.  A project that switches electricity for heating from one fossil fuel to another fossil fuel source would not be eligible.

    5. Does the Wataynikaneyap transmission project affect the eligibility of these remote communities in Ontario?
    A5. Communities that are part of the Watay Power project are currently eligible for all program streams. However, please note that the potential grid connection and expected timelines will be taken into account during the proposal review process.

    6. Can I submit a proposal if I DID NOT submit a project concept questionnaire (PCQ)?
    A6. Yes, you do not need to have submitted a PCQ to be eligible for this call for proposals.

    7. I DID submit a PCQ. Do I still have to submit a proposal?
    A7. Yes, even if you submitted a PCQ, you still need to submit a full proposal to be eligible for this call.

  • Program Funding

    1. How is the $220 million going to be distributed over the 6 years?
    A1. Funding levels for the program are lower in years 1 and 2 and increase in years 3, 4 and 5, before ramping down in the final year of the program.

    2. Can project funding be spread over multiple years?
    A2. Yes, project funding can be spread over multiple years.

    3. ­Is there a minimum amount or maximum amount of funding for applications?  ­
    A3. There is no minimum NRCan contribution per project. Please refer to Section 10 of the Applicant’s Guide to review the maximum NRCan contribution per project and the Total Program Funding as a percentage of total project costs that can be provided under each program stream.

    4. Is there a second round of funding?
    A4. The program will have a continuous intake process that will commence after the May 17, 2018 deadline for Round 1 funding has passed. There will be no specific rounds of funding after that, however, a portion of the program’s funds will be held back to ensure that NRCan will be able to support projects that need additional proposal development time.

    5. Will funding still be available for projects that are submitted as part of the continuous intake?
    A5. Yes, funding will still be available for those that submit proposals after May 17, 2018.  NRCan will reserve a portion of funding for projects submitted as part of the continuous intake process and for later years of the program. 

    6. Are there any regional allocation caps to ensure that funds are equitably geographically distributed?
    A6. Allocations or caps by region have not been established.  Regional balance is a key aspect of the program and will be considered during the review process.

    7. For deployment, how might the remaining 60% of funds for the project be sourced? Will this need to be confirmed prior to application?
    A7. The deployment component may offer funding for up to 40% of total project costs. The remaining funds for a project can come from a variety of sources, including other federal or provincial / territorial funding programs and private sources of financing. Applicants may also choose to use their own financial support. Confirmation of funding sources is not required prior to your application, but will need to be finalized before a contribution agreement is signed.  Preference may be given to project applications that leverage other sources of funding.

    8. Is support from other levels of government required?
    A8. Support from other levels of government is not required; however given that provinces, territories and utilities lead on supplying electricity and heat to communities, these groups will be approached during the due diligence phase. Any early consultation and engagement with these groups will be beneficial.

  • Program Component Eligible Activities

    1. What are eligible costs?
    A1. Please refer to section 8.1 in the Applicant’s Guide for the full list.

    2. What is a "replacement fuel"?
    A2. A “Replacement fuel” reduces diesel use by transitioning to use other fossil fuels for electricity and heat generation. Given this program supports the deployment and demonstration of renewable energy technologies, a switch from diesel (or heavy fuel oil or propane) to another fossil fuel, such as natural gas, is not currently eligible.

    3. Can you explain the “bundling” method to reach the 250 kW threshold for the deployment component?
    A3. An applicant may combine multiple technologies to reach the threshold (for example, a 200kW wind turbine and a 50kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system) or combined projects in multiple locations (for example, five communities that each install 50 kW of solar PV). Please note, that these must be combined as one application.

    4. For the demonstration component, how close to readiness must a project be to apply for funding?
    A4. Please refer to Annex 4 of the Applicant’s Guide that describes the technology readiness levels (TRLs). It is expected that a demonstration project will advance the TRL of a technology by a minimum of 1 level. A TRL of greater than 9 is considered commercially ready. Systems need to be ready for demonstration in a remote community, therefore, NRCan would expect a final TRL of 8-9.

    5. Is funding available for Front-end engineering and design (FEED)? What are the requirements?
    A5. A FEED study can receive funding under the demonstration component. As outlined in Annex 2 Section 3 of the Applicant’s Guide, a FEED Study will focus on the technical requirements as well as financial and regulatory requirements to complete a demonstration project. There must be a specific demonstration as the end goal. The Applicant’s Guide further mentions that a feasibility study may be incorporated, but it would focus on specific technical, financial and/or regulatory requirements, such as the siting location, operation and maintenance needs, etc. It is expected that broad or pre-feasibility studies have been conducted prior to the demonstration proposal submission. FEEDs may occur over multiple years.

    The proposal should propose an actual demonstration project, identify if outstanding information is needed, and if a FEED is required prior to project execution.

    6. How do you define a project year?
    A6. A project year relates to the government fiscal year: April 1st to March 31st. The program runs for six government fiscal years from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2024.

    7. When is the latest date a project can start?
    A7. A project may start at any time, but must be completed by the end of the program at March 31, 2024. To be eligible for reimbursement under the CERRC program, project costs must relate to work done during the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2024. For example, if an eligible project were to start March 1st, 2024, only work done in its first month would be eligible for funding by CERRC.

    8. If the project involves two stages and the first stage is not in a rural or remote community, but the second stage is; would the project still be eligible?
    A8. The Demonstration component does not support research and development (R&D) activities, which would include field testing in urban locations or laboratories. The technology or system being considered needs to be ready for demonstration in a remote location. If your technology requires further research, the Government of Canada has other programs that may be a better fit for such a project; please visit the NRC Concierge for more information. If you have specific questions, please direct them to the Remote Energy mailbox:

    9. Could electric vehicles be considered as a way to reduce diesel and gasoline usage?
    A9. The focus of this program is renewable energy for heat and power, not for transportation. While not excluded, an applicant would need to indicate how electric vehicles could be integrated into a demonstration renewable energy project primarily designed to reduce the use of diesel for heat and power.

    10. Do all streams allow for multiple locations? Or just the deployment stream?
    A10. Deployment, BioHeat and capacity building streams all allow multiple project locations. In order for a project to have multiple locations under the Demonstration program stream, each location must have an innovative aspect due to the location, application or needs and resources. The Program will not support the demonstration of an identical system in multiple locations at the same time.

    11. Is it a requirement that first time deployment of technologies in the north be submitted under the demonstration stream or can these projects be submitted under the deployment stream if desired?
    A11. While projects of this nature may be most eligible for demonstration, they can be submitted to deployment, provided that all terms and conditions are met and all required documentation is submitted.

  • Program Application Process, Timeline, Review and Selection

    1. What will be the driver to determine the level (percentage) of funding a project can receive?
    A1. It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate why a particular amount of funding is necessary to support the project. Preference may be given to projects that are leveraging other sources of funding.

    2. Do proposals, submitted by April 12th for review, need to be in their final format?
    A2. Proposals for review should use the application template and be as final as possible. A completed proposal will allow for program staff to provide the most comprehensive feedback possible at that time.

    3. How is impartiality maintained when reviewing projects that involve funding from other Federal departments?
    A3. NRCan will be using a review committee comprised of technical experts, economists and policy advisors from within the department and other federal departments/agencies to evaluate proposals. Projects that include funding from other sources beyond the CERRC will receive credit in the evaluation process for that other funding. The absence of additional funding does not mean a proposal will not be funded by CERRC.

    4. Upon notification of a successful application, when can applicants expect to complete a contribution agreement?
    A4. We expect to be negotiating contribution agreements with successful applicants over the summer of 2018 and aim to conclude these negotiations during the fall and winter 2018/19.

    5. For applications submitted following May 17, 2018 will there be any opportunity for feedback on the application?
    A5. The process for applications submitted as part of the continuous intake will be explained in further detail on NRCan’s website in the coming months. The ability to provide feedback on proposals coming in through the continuous intake period will be subject to the availability of program staff.

    6. Can a single project apply to multiple components simultaneously?
    A6. Yes. Please note that the different components may have different application requirements. Please be careful and ensure you submit all necessary documentation for each applicable program stream in order for your proposal to be reviewed by the respective teams.

    7. Is there a limit to the number of projects one company can be involved in?
    A7. No, there is no limit.

    8. How will NRCan review projects? How will NRCan ensure the project is viable?
    A8. NRCan will be using a review committee comprised of technical experts, economists and policy advisors from within the department and other federal departments/agencies to evaluate proposals. The evaluation process will review the applicant’s plan for the long-term sustainable operation of any project. NRCan will also complete a “due diligence” process with successful applications to collect further information before entering into a contribution agreement with an applicant.

    The program will consider, project design, maintenance/sustainability plans and community support (involvement and/or ownership) as important factors in ensuring the success and viability of a project. Eligible costs listed in Section 8 of the CERRC Applicant’s Guide, include training and salary for the ongoing operation and maintenance of renewable energy projects. Applicants are encouraged to include this as part of their project plan.

  • Partnerships

    1. Can joint proposals with multiple applicants be submitted?
    A1. Yes. Proposals with multiple applicants are encouraged. Please note that the contribution agreement will be written with only one entity, therefore it may be beneficial to begin discussions early to confirm who will be the lead partner.

    2. How can I demonstrate that I have community support?
    A2. Providing documentation, such as a band council resolution or written consent, will be important to demonstrate community support. Applications should show how the community will be involved in the project. Alternatively, please include contact information for your community liaison members, as we will be reaching out to the community as part of our due diligence process.

    3. If we are submitting proposals to other government departments, how do we coordinate these requests?
    A3. Individual proposals must be submitted to each funding program separately, but please ensure that you indicate on your proposals that you are reaching out to other funding programs, even if the funds are not yet confirmed. NRCan may be able to work with other federal departments, agencies and provincial/territorial governments to develop a common funding arrangement in the event that you are awarded funding from multiple programs.

    4. Are certain partnerships necessary? For example, with a utility? Do these partnerships strengthen applications?
    A4. Partnerships with utilities are not required. However, diverse partnerships can strengthen applications. Please note that a demonstration of community support is required, but a community is not required to be a partner.

    5. Should the community be the main applicant? Or should the technology company?
    A5. There is no required or preferred applicant. In either case, make sure that your partnership or agreements are clearly communicated in your application. Community support for any project is a requirement of the program.

    6. Are university research groups eligible to be partners with communities or municipalities as funding recipients?
    A6. Yes.

  • Eligible Technologies

    1. Why is solar thermal not eligible?
    A1. Solar thermal elements can be included in an application to the demonstration component. Solar thermal is not eligible for the Bioheat nor Deployment components, as it is not a forest-based source of heating and not a renewable electricity technology.

    2. Are marine (ocean, wave, tidal) energy technologies eligible?
    A2. Yes. Marine technologies would be eligible under the demonstration component.

    3. Are small nuclear reactors eligible?
    A3. The industry and government do not expect that small modular reactors will be ready for demonstration until after 2024, which is past the lifetime of this program.

    4. If the technology is proven abroad, for example in Europe, but not yet deployed in North America, would these technologies be eligible?
    A4. Yes, such a technology may be eligible for the demonstration, deployment and BioHeat components. Adoption in Canada of technologies proven effective in other countries is a desired outcome of the CERRC program. Additionally, please check out the Emerging Renewable Power Program.

    5. Would energy efficiency in the form of combined heat and power (CHP/Cogen) using propane as the fuel be eligible for funding?
    A5. No. Propane is a fossil fuel. While we recognize that some fossil fuels may produce less emissions than diesel, the CERRC program is focused on conversions to renewable energy from fossil fuels. Energy efficiency activities involving existing fossil fuel systems such as propane or diesel are not eligible.

    6. Can anaerobic digestion co-utilize other biomass (animal manure, kitchen waste) in addition to woody biomass available at rural/remote communities? Is the focus around wood biomass?
    A6. Yes, provided that the fuel mix consists primarily of wood-based biomass, other wastes can be included in the fuel for an eligible system installation under CERRC BioHeat.

  • Further Support

    1. Is there a resource for communities and organizations to determine what opportunities for federal funding are available?
    A1. Please consider submitting your project idea to the Government of Canada’s website on reducing reliance on diesel for help in navigating the federal funding options that are available to you.

    2. Is NRCan able to identify communities for the purpose of matching with potential project developers?
    A2. No. NRCan does not currently provide a match-making service.

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