Energy in Canada's Northern Communities
Canada’s Energy Frontier
Canada is massive. It is the second largest country by land mass and has some of the largest forests and freshwater resources in the world. However, there are relatively few people that live in Canada when compared to our neighbours in the south. Our low population density may not be that apparent if you live in the southern parts of the country, but as you move north it becomes strikingly obvious.
There are 358 remote communities in Canada, located from British Columbia to Newfoundland, and stretching far north into the arctic circle.
A key characteristic of these communities is their lack of connection to the North American Utility grid, meaning that most of their power is produced by diesel generators. These generators require diesel to be shipped in at remarkably high prices. In Nunavut alone, roughly 55 million liters are burned each year for heating and electricity.
To get a more accurate picture, let’s examine what a hypothetical northern community would look like.
A Typical Case
For analysis purposes we are going to propose an imaginary community based on some of the average numbers for all of Canada’s northern villages.
This fictitious community is in northern Quebec and has a population of about 3000 people. These people are mostly living off the land and ocean with a research outpost also located in the town.
On average residents are paying 32 cents/kWh for their electricity. Compared to Canada’s average of 11 cents/kWh, this is extremely expensive.
Each house uses roughly 40, 159-liter barrels each year for electricity and heat.
And, for every liter of diesel burned, 2.7 kg of Carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.
Continuing to burn diesel fuels in these communities is unsustainable from both an environmental and cost perspective, so the transition to renewables needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Switching to Renewables
Some communities have already begun this transition, using solar arrays to help offset some of the fuel usage. Small-scale wind power has also been tried but the lack of turbines that are able to stand up to the harsh Canadian climate has impeded further progress… Until now.
Borrum Energy Solutions microgeneration turbine, the Anorra, has been tested down to -50 degrees Celsius and is the only turbine designed specifically for Canada’s northern climates. Check out this infographic explaining how our turbine can do this!
Communities in Northern Quebec and across the Hudson Bay basin to Nunavut have excellent wind resources with speeds averaging greater than 6 m/s or 21.6 km/h. Therefore, there is great potential for wind power to be installed and significantly offset the fuel usage in these communities.
Canada’s north needs to make the transition to cleaner forms of power before diesel prices get higher and as climate change continues to change these unique landscapes.
Switching to a microgeneration wind turbine would save residents money and produce clean power to keep the lights and heat on throughout the long winter.
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