Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
With more than 110,000 people spread across 3.5 million square kilometres, powering Canada’s North is tricky, especially since most communities are not connected to the power grid.
Almost three-quarters of fuel consumption in the North is imported mainly by oil tanker, including fuel oil or propane for heat or diesel for transport and electricity. Indigenous communities are looking for renewable alternatives in the face of the high costs of relying on diesel fuel...
Almost three-quarters of fuel consumption in the North is imported mainly by oil tanker, including fuel oil or propane for heat or diesel for transport and electricity. Indigenous communities are looking for renewable alternatives in the face of the high costs of relying on diesel fuel.
Nunavut relies completely on diesel for generating electricity. In the Northwest Territories, a little more than half of their electrcity is generated from diesel, with the rest coming from hydro and natural gas. The Yukon gets most of its electricity through hydropower.
Potential for oil and gas
There is potential for oil and gas extraction in the North. It's estimated that the Northwest Territories hold about 35 per cent of Canada’s remaining marketable natural gas resources and 37 per cent of the remaining recoverable light crude oil. Oil and gas projects could potentially reduce the reliance on imported fossil fuel, but few projects have been developed, because of environmental and land-use concerns and the cost of infrastructure.
Hydroelectricity in the North
The Yukon stands out among the territories as a hydro producer, with hydro accounting for 94 per cent of its electricity and lower electricity rates.
While it is not the only territory harnessing hydropower, there is great potential for more hydro development in the North. In the Northwest Territories alone, there is the potential for over 11,000 megawatts of hydropower; however, there has been little development because of the high cost of building hydro infrastructure.
Biomass to heat the North
Biomass is frequently used to provide heat in northern communities, through burning wood in conventional wood stoves, and produces 65,000 megawatt-hours of heat in the Northwest Territories and 110,000 megawatt-hours in Yukon annually. Territorial governments are considering adopting district-heating systems powered by biomass across the region to replace fossil-fuel-generated heat.
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As the generator in a wind turbine creates electricity, a local transformer near the turbine sends it through transmission and distribution lines to users. The electricity can be used locally or put into the electric grid for use farther away.
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