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Technical feasibility of renewable electricity generation in Nunavut
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| By Michigan Tech's Open Sustainability Technology Lab.
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Full chapter: Nicole C. McDonald, Ha T. Nguyen, and Joshua M. Pearce, “Technical Feasibility of Renewable Electricity Generation in Nunavut” in M.D. Tiwari, A. Vaish (Ed.), Green Energy, River Publishers: Alborg, Denmark, pp. 41-74 (2012). Available: Google Books preview
All twenty-five communities in Nunavut are dependent on the use of imported diesel fuel for their electricity, which results in environmental, social and economic problems. This chapter critically analyzes the technical viability of renewable energy technologies (RETs) to mitigate some of the damage done by diesel in three case-study communities in Nunavut: Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, and Resolute Bay. RETs are screened for available data, potential energy output and economic impacts of RET systems of equivalent peak power to current diesel plants are determined using numerical simulation. These impacts are quantified for the RET system by:
- percent of diesel generated energy saved,
- amount of diesel fuel reduced,
- the economic savings from unused diesel fuel, and
- greenhouse gas emissions reduction potential.
RET Resource Maps
This chapter examined the technical feasibility of two RETs, solar PV and wind turbines, for three Nunavut communities, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, and Resolute Bay. RET systems were designed to match the current diesel power plant capacity in each community. Through the analyses it was found that a solar PV plant could reduce diesel electricity production by 33% to 50%, depending on the community, and provide economic savings between $494,000 and $4.3M/year. Moreover, PV systems proved to potentially save between 1,527,500 and 15,057,200 kg of CO2 equivalent. Thus hybrid solar CHP systems have significant potential for remote communities and should be further investigated.
Wind energy proved to be even more successful, providing potential diesel electricity reductions of more than 100% in Rankin Inlet and Resolute Bay, and about 49% in Iqaluit. Moreover, the potential economic savings from wind were found to be between $891,028 and $5.6M a year, while the GHG savings could be between 3,089,256 and 19,786,652 kg of CO2 equivalent. It is clear that wind-diesel systems have significant potential for remote communities, but have faced many technical challenges (e.g. power integration and control systems), which must be addressed in the future.
From these results, it is evident that solar PV and wind turbines are a technically viable option for Nunavut communities as they look to reduce the diesel use across the territory. In addition, combined with further economic analyses following the ROI argument, these systems will likely also prove to be economically feasible, thereby making RETs a sound and beneficial investment for the territory of Nunavut.