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Renewable Energy in Canadian Aboriginal Remote Communities - Lit Review

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Policy Section

Renewable Energy Policy

1. INAC, 2009. "Sharing the Story: Aboriginal and Northern Energy Experiences by the Government of Canada" Government of Canada.
There is a section on solar energy and three case studies of Aboriginal communities. Among them include one in Nunavut which involved solar panels being used in some of the coldest weather conditions.

2. INAC, 2008. "Community Energy Plan for Wha Ti by the Government of Canada" Government of Canada.
In addition to their hydro project, the community has installed solar panels on the Elders' complex and at the Wha Ti airport. This community is an inspiration for others who aspire to do similar work. The Tlicho people of Wha Ti share their knowledge and experience through general conversations and by delivering workshops in neighbouring communities. The Tlicho community of Gameti also started developing their CEP and are assessing the feasibility of creating their own run of the river hydro project.

3. Fartaj, A., Islam, M., Ting, D.S.K., 2004. "Current utilization and future prospects of emerging renewable energy applications in Canada" Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 8(6), 493-519.
Canada has vast renewable energy resources due to its extensive geography and traditionally they have played an important role, particularly prior to the turn of the 20th century. Public interest in new renewable energy technologies (RETs) emerged and grew during the oil shocks of the 1970s and early 1980s. Even though many Canadian provinces had been deriving most of their electricity from hydroelectric power, the first oil crises of the 1970s ignited a strong interest in all forms of renewable energy. Though Canada has huge prospects for low-impact RETs, it is falling behind most industrialized nations in the expansion of these technologies due to a lack of supporting market structures and the absence of appropriate government policies and initiatives. This review focuses on only applications of low-impact emerging RETs that refer to wind, solar, small hydro, geothermal, marine and modern biomass energy. Today, these technologies are mostly in the dissemination, demonstration and early stage of commercialization phase in Canada and currently they contribute less than 1% of the total primary energy consumption. It is evident from the past experience of Europe and Japan that environmentally benign RETs can contribute significantly toward Canada’s Kyoto target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by displacing the use of conventional fossil fuels, and help Canada take an essential step toward a sustainable energy future. In this paper, the current energy utilization scenario of Canada has been analyzed and an array of emerging RET applications has been presented under the category of: (i) green power technologies; (ii) green heat technologies; and (iii) green fuel technologies.

4. St. Denisa, G., Parkerb, P., 2009. "Community energy planning in Canada: The role of renewable energy" Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 13(8), 2088-2095.

An emerging trend in Canada is the creation of community energy plans, where decisions that used to be left to regional level energy agencies or private individuals are now being considered at the community level. A desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to become more energy self-sufficient is driving this change. Theoretically, local level management is desirable because it achieves these goals through improvements in the three areas of energy efficiency, energy conservation and switching to renewable energy sources. The analysis of 10 of the first community energy plans in Canadian communities, ranging in population size from 500 to one million, finds that communities are choosing policies and programs centred on increasing energy efficiency and conservation while renewable energy receives much less attention. Municipal operations were called upon to set higher targets than the general community. Communities that recognized the substantial potential of renewable energy often focused on technologies that the municipal sector could implement, such as bio-fuels for their transportation fleet. Wind, passive solar design, solar photovoltaics and solar thermal options were only recommended in a few cases. Overall, only one of the five larger communities (Calgary) recommended implementing multiple renewable energy technologies while three of the five smaller communities proposed multiple renewable energy sources. The implication is that smaller and more remote communities may be the most willing to lead in the planned introduction of renewable energy systems.

5. Loukacheva, N., 2009. "Climate Change Policy in the Arctic: The Cases of Greenland and Nunavut" Environment and Policy, 50, 1-24.
The Arctic is changing and undergoing a major transformation under the pressure of economic development and the threat of a vanishing subsistence culture, the unpredictable consequences of climate change and the increasing impact of global developments on local economic, legal and political settings. The shifting climate and dramatic changes of Northern landscapes and ecosystems also have implications for the well-being of Arctic communities. In reality, the effectiveness of governance systems in the Arctic is restrained by the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of individuals and institutional agencies to face global challenges such as climate change. By exploring the climate change policies and institutional capabilities of Greenland (Denmark), Nunavut (Canada’s Central and Eastern Arctic) and their nexus with the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC), this chapter analyses the dimensions and the efforts of governmental and non-governmental institutions in addressing climate change issues in the Arctic.

Background: Community and the Environment

Aboriginal Communities and Sustainability

1. Furgal, C., Seguin, J., 2009. "Climate change, health, and vulnerability in Canadian northern Aboriginal communities" Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(12), 1964-1970. Canada has recognized that Aboriginal and northern communities in the country face unique challenges and that there is a need to expand the assessment of vulnerabilities to climate change to include these communities. Evidence suggests that Canada’s North is already experiencing significant changes in its climate—changes that are having negative impacts on the lives of Aboriginal people living in these regions. Research on climate change and health impacts in northern Canada thus far has brought together Aboriginal community members, government representatives, and researchers and is charting new territory. In this article we review experiences from two projects that have taken a community-based dialogue approach to identifying and assessing the effects of and vulnerability to climate change and the impact on the health in two Inuit regions of the Canadian Arctic. The results of the two case projects that we present argue for a multi-stakeholder, participatory framework for assessment that supports the necessary analysis, understanding, and enhancement of capabilities of local areas to respond and adapt to the health impacts at the local level.

2. Sinclair, J., 2009. "T'Sou-ke Nation shares solar savvy" Sooke News Mirror. British Columbia.

Technical Feasibility Section

Diesel in Remote Northern/Aboriginal Communities

Holden, A., 2001. "ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER COMMISSION" Report to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, Trade Sub-Committee Enquiry, 30 April, 2001.

1. Appropriate renewable hybrid power systems for the remote aboriginal communities by Stephanie Jennings, John Healey
Renewable power supply systems have been a natural choice for many of Australia's small remote aboriginal communities where the costs of diesel fuel are high. The results have been mixed. This is partially due to design factors, but more importantly due to community acceptance of these technologically complex systems and the maintenance arrangements with the community power station operators and local resource agencies. This paper looks at some of the issues to consider in the selection, design, installation and maintenance of appropriate hybrid power stations for smaller remote aboriginal communities.

2. Duerden, F., Ford, D., Furgal, C., Pearce, T., Smit, B., 2010. "Climate change policy responses for Canada’s Inuit population: The importance of and opportunities for adaptation" Global Environmental Change. 20, 177-191.

We identify and examine how policy intervention can help Canada’s Inuit population adapt to climate change. The policy responses are based on an understanding of the determinants of vulnerability identified in research conducted with 15 Inuit communities. A consistent approach was used in each case study where vulnerability is conceptualized as a function of exposure-sensitivity to climatic risks and adaptive capacity to deal with those risks. This conceptualization focuses on the biophysical and human determinants of vulnerability and how they are influenced by processes and conditions operating at multiple spatial-temporal scales. Case studies involved close collaboration with community members and policy makers to identify conditions to which each community is currently vulnerable, characterize the factors that shape vulnerability and how they have changed over time, identify opportunities for adaptation policy, and examine how adaptation can be mainstreamed. Fieldwork, conducted between 2006 and 2009, included 443 semi-structured interviews, 20 focus groups/community workshops, and 65 interviews with policy makers at local, regional, and national levels. Synthesizing findings consistent across the case studies we document significant vulnerabilities, a function of socio-economic stresses and change, continuing and pervasive inequality, and magnitude of climate change. Nevertheless, adaptations are available, feasible, and Inuit have considerable adaptive capacity. Realizing this adaptive capacity and overcoming adaptation barriers requires policy intervention to: (i) support the teaching and transmission of environmental knowledge and land skills, (ii) enhance and review emergency management capability, (iii) ensure the flexibility of resource management regimes, (iv) provide economic support to facilitate adaptation for groups with limited household income, (v) increase research effort to identify short and long term risk factors and adaptive response options, (vi) protect key infrastructure, and (vii) promote awareness of climate change impacts and adaptation among policy makers.

This document reports on the first year of a proposed three-year project to understand the potential consequences and challenges of climate change for Aboriginal communities south of 60º latitude. It is hoped that this report and subsequent outcomes of the project will help to point the way to how such communities may be better enabled and assisted to cope with both the expected and unexpected challenges that lie ahead.

Wind Energy

1. Seifert, H., Tammelin, B., 2001. "LARGE WIND TURBINES GO INTO COLD CLIMATE REGIONS" EWEC, Copenhagen.
Cold climate and severe icing problems have to be faced when erecting wind turbines at mountainous or hilly inland sites at regions like northern Spain, Apennines in Italy, Southern France, Alps, mountainous areas in Germany, Scotland, large regions in the eastern Europe and the Nordic countries. Similar conditions at sites with good wind conditions will be also found in other regions and at other continents. Low air temperature and especially icing conditions create new demands for the design of wind turbines and their components, and also to wind energy assessment. Theoretical models have been produced to calculate e.g. loads and power production under icing conditions, and blade heating systems and ice free sensors are now available. However, well documented demonstrations and verifications of results achieved are still missing. They are urgently needed to increase and improve the exploitation of wind energy at cold climate regions

2. Ilinca, A., Pinard, J.P., Weisa, T.M., 2008. "Stakeholders’ perspectives on barriers to remote wind–diesel power plants in Canada" Energy Policy, 36(5), 1611-1621.
Canada has been experimenting with wind–diesel hybrid systems for its remote communities for over 25 years with limited success. This paper discusses the results of a year-long survey that was distributed to stakeholders in wind–diesel systems in remote Canadian communities. These stakeholders include utilities, wind energy technology manufacturers, project developers, researchers, and governments. The analysis shows that there is a strong agreement that capital and operating costs are the most significant barriers to the implementation of wind–diesel systems and that direct project financial incentives, notably production and capital cost incentives designed to reduce these costs are perceived as the most effective way to encourage development. There is a notable disagreement between utilities and governments on one hand, who are split as to the current technical viability of wind–diesel systems, and manufacturers, developers, and researchers on the other, who overwhelmingly believe that wind–diesel systems are mature enough for remote applications.

3. Baring-Gould, I., Holttinen, H., Horbaty, R., Laakso, Lacroix, A., Peltola, E., Ronsten, G., Tallhaur, L., Tammelin, B., 2003. State-of-the-art of wind energy cold climates. Commissioned report to the IEA.
Wind turbines in cold climates refer to sites that have either icing events or low temperatures outside the operational limits of standard wind turbines. International Energy Agency, IEA R&D Wind has started a new annex, Wind Energy in Cold Climates. This is an international collaboration on gathering and providing information about wind turbine icing and low temperature operation. The goal is to monitor reliability of standard and adapted technology and establish guidelines for applying wind power in cold climates. In this report, the state-of-the-art of arctic wind energy is presented: knowledge on climatic conditions and resources, technical solutions in use and operational experience of wind turbines in cold climates.

4. Ilinca, A., Weisa, T.M., 2008. "The utility of energy storage to improve the economics of wind–diesel power plants in Canada" Renewable Energy, 33(7), 1544-1557.
Wind energy systems have been considered for Canada’s remote communities in order to reduce their costs and dependence on diesel fuel to generate electricity. Given the high capital costs, low-penetration wind–diesel systems have been typically found not to be economic. High-penetration wind–diesel systems have the benefit of increased economies of scale, and displacing significant amounts of diesel fuel, but have the disadvantage of not being able to capture all of the electricity that is generated when the wind turbines operate at rated capacity. Two representative models of typical remote Canadian communities were created using HOMER, an NREL micro-power simulator to model how a generic energy storage system could help improve the economics of a high-penetration wind–diesel system. Key variables that affect the optimum system are average annual wind speed, cost of diesel fuel, installed cost of storage and a storage systems overall efficiency. At an avoided cost of diesel fuel of 0.30 $Cdn/kWh and current installed costs, wind generators are suitable in remote Canadian communities only when an average annual wind speed of at least 6.0 m/s is present. Wind energy storage systems become viable to consider when average annual wind speeds approach 7.0 m/s, if the installed cost of the storage system is less than 1000 $Cdn/kW and it is capable of achieving at least a 75% overall energy conversion efficiency. In such cases, energy storage system can enable an additional 50% of electricity from wind turbines to be delivered.

5. Guha, S., Kar, N.C., Soloumah, H.M., 2005. "Status of and prospect for wind power generation in Canada" Wind Engineering, 29(3), 253-270.
Increasing environmental concerns and decreasing stocks of fossil fuels encourage wind power generation worldwide. In Canada, being consistent with the world wide growth, wind power is growing at an impressive rate as a potential energy source. This paper investigates the status and prospects of wind power development in Canada. Currently, Canada has an installed wind power capacity of 444 MW and the target is to reach the 4,000 MW mark by 2010 to meet the Canadian Government's commitment to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Federal and provincial governments are encouraging the application of wind power by implementing different policies and programs. Some of these policies are discussed in this paper. In this article, a few key issues which the country has to overcome in order to utilize the significant untapped wind energy available have been discussed along with their possible solutions.

6. Maissan, J.F., 2001. [ "WIND POWER DEVELOPMENT IN SUB-ARCTIC CONDITIONS WITH SEVERE RIME ICING"] Circumpolar Climate Change Summit and Exposition: Whitehorse, Yukon.
Discussion of wind energy in the North.

7. Vasil'ev, V.A., Saparov, M.I., Tarnizhevskii, B.V., 2005. "Possibilities of Use and Promising Layouts of Power Plants Employing Renewable Energy Sources in Arctic Regions of Russia". Power Technology and Engineering, 39 (5): 308-311.

Possible volumes of the use of renewable energy sources in arctic regions of Russia are considered. With allowance for the climatic conditions and local consumers it is the most expedient to built wind-driven power plants in combination with diesels. Places of possible erection and capacities of wind-diesel plants with total output of 95 MW are presented. This will make it possible to reduce considerably the delivery of expensive diesel fuel (by 106,000 tons coal equivalent a year). The expected investment is estimated at 3.9 billion rubles.

Solar Energy

1. OPA, 2007. "A Progress Report on Electricity Conservation" Commissioned report by the OPA.
Ontario has a long-term conservation target to achieve 6,300 megawatts (MW) of peak electricity demand reduction by 2025. Interim targets include a reduction in peak demand of 1,350 MW by 2010. The OPA’s approach in achieving the targets set for 2010 and 2025 is to use three overlapping but distinct types of conservation programs: resource acquisition, capability building and market transformation. This report focuses on resource acquisition or conservation procurement.

2. Brown, C., Guichard, A., Lyons, D., 1996. "ANALYSIS OF THE POTENTIAL FOR WIND AND SOLAR ENERGY SYSTEMS IN ANTARCTICA" Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies.
As renewable energy generation devices become more efficient and less expensive, the market for providing power to remote communities is expanding. Power for these sites is usually provided by diesel generator sets although, with high winds or solar radiation levels, wind-turbines and solar arrays could prove an ideal alternative. This is especially true for Antarctica. The Australian Antarctic Division currently ships approximately 750,000 litres of diesel fuel annually to each of three continental stations located on the coastline of East Antarctica. These operations are expensive and savings could be expected from the introduction of a renewable energy generation capability. These stations experience strong winds with gusts recorded at up to 81 m/s, together with temperatures often plunging below -30oC in winter. This, while providing adequate meteorological conditions for power generation by wind-turbines, also imposes harsh design criteria. Solar also remains an extremely promising alternative during the summer, but is not viable for the winter. As part of a project investigating 'Alternative Energy for Antarctic Stations', analysis of meteorological data has given wind energy capacity factors estimates of up to 0.7, and summer solar energy capacity factors estimates of up to 0.3. These, combined with station load measurements, have been used to determine the optimal sizing of the number and ratio of wind/solar to storage devices. Results indicate that installation of a 110 kW wind turbine capacity at Mawson would result in a 25% fuel saving, while a 55 kW wind turbine capacity at Macquarie Island would reduce fuel consumption by 30%.

3. Dell, R.M., Rand, D.A.J., 2001. "Energy storage — a key technology for global energy sustainability" Journal of Power Sources, 100(1-2), 2-17.
The quality of life today is dependent upon access to a bountiful supply of cheap energy. For a sustainable future, the energy should be derived from non-fossil sources; ideally, it should also be reliable and safe, flexible in use, affordable, and limitless. This paper examines the present global use of energy in its various forms, and considers projections for the year 2020 with particular attention to the harnessing of ‘clean’ and renewable forms of energy for electricity generation and road transportation. The incorporation of renewables is constrained in many instances by the variable and intermittent nature of their output. This calls for the practical application of energy-storage systems. An evaluation is made of the prospects of the candidate storage technologies — pumped-hydro, flywheels, hydrogen (for use in fuel cells), batteries — for application in centralized and distributed electricity supplies, and in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The discussion concludes with the developments foreseen over the next 20 years.

A 3.2 kWp grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system was installed on the façade of the Nunavut Arctic College, Nunatta Campus in Iqaluit, Nunavut (63.4 °N) in 1995. The project has two main objectives: to gain experience in the construction, monitoring and maintenance of a northern gridconnected PV system, and to serve as a demonstrator of the use of PV in the far North. This paper summarizes nine years of monitoring results. The monitored data includes current from the PV array, array voltage, AC power delivered, horizontal and vertical irradiances (both measured with LiCor and Eppley pyranometers), ambient temperature, and array temperature. Climatic and solar radiation conditions at the site are reviewed, and the performance of the system is assessed from a component perspective (PV array, power conditioning unit) and from a global perspective (system efficiency, reliability, annual yield and performance ratio). The system has delivered on average 2,016 ± 200 kWh of electricity on an annual basis with no interruption of delivery. Thus, the system has demonstrated with success the reliability of grid-connected photovoltaics for the far North.

5. Dignard-Bailey, L., Martel, S., Ross, M.M.D., "PHOTOVOLTAICS FOR THE NORTH: A CANADIAN PROGRAM" Commissioned Report.
Large seasonal variations in solar radiation and other adverse climatic factors have made the implementation of PV technologies challenging in Canada, especially in the North; however, through the development of new technologies adapted to cold climates and the development of expertise in this field, this challenge is being met. This paper reports on the experience and results of PV for the North, a Canadian program that started in 1993 in response to a need for PV systems better adapted to harsh arctic conditions and information on the technology. This five year program was initiated by the CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory (CERDL), the Aurora Research Institute and the Nunavut Research Institute to address the various issues of importance in the particular context of Canada’s north. The achievements of this program have been reached because of its complete range of activities: from market assessment to product development, to demonstration systems and information dissemination.

6. Martel, S., Les Kutny, D., Troke, S., 1998. "Photovoltaics for the North: Five Years of Breaking Down Barriers in the Northwest Territories" Commissioned Report.

Description of various photovoltaic programs that have taken place in the North - including PV for the North.

7. McKenney, D.W., Pelland, S., Poissant, Y., Morris, R., Hutchinson, M., Papadopol, P., Lawrence, K., Campbell, C., 2008. "Spatial insolation models for photovoltaic energy in Canada". Solar Energy, 82 (11): 1049-1061.

Spatial models of global insolation and photovoltaic electricity generation potential for Canada were developed. The main objective was to provide Canadians with an easily accessible, reliable tool for rapidly estimating the monthly and yearly electricity production potential of grid-connected photovoltaic systems anywhere in the country, and for assessing the dependence of production on location, time of year and array orientation. Monthly mean daily insolation data from 144 meteorological stations across Canada were used, along with data from an additional eight stations in Alaska to improve the models in that region. Several photovoltaic array orientations were considered, including South-facing arrays with latitude and vertical tilts and a sun-tracking orientation. Partial thin plate smoothing splines as implemented in ANUSPLIN were used to generate the spatial insolation models. The models were based on geographic position and a transform of monthly mean precipitation, the latter variable being a surrogate for cloudiness which affects surface insolation. Photovoltaic electricity generation (in kWh per kilowatt of photovoltaic installed power capacity) was estimated for each month and for the entire year from the insolation models by assuming international standard values for the performance ratio of photovoltaic systems. The yearly average root mean square predictive error (RTGCV) on the mean daily global insolation ranges between 0.75 (vertical tilt) and 1.43MJ/m2 (sun-tracking orientation) (or about 4.7–9.0kWh/kW in terms of PV potential), or from 5.6% to 6.9% of the mean. Ultimately insolation and photovoltaic potential were mapped over the country at a 300 arc seconds (∼10km) resolution. The maps are available on a Natural Resources Canada Website. This is an important new tool to help Canadians gain an overall perspective of Canada’s photovoltaic potential, and allow estimation of potential photovoltaic system electricity production at any chosen location.

Climate Change in the North

1. Ford, J.D., 2009. "Dangerous climate change and the importance of adaptation for the Arctic’s Inuit population". Environmental Resource Letters, 4.
The Arctic’s climate is changing rapidly, to the extent that ‘dangerous’ climate change as defined by the United Nations Framework on Climate Change might already be occurring. These changes are having implications for the Arctic’s Inuit population and are being exacerbated by the dependence of Inuit on biophysical resources for livelihoods and the low socio-economic–health status of many northern communities. Given the nature of current climate change and projections of a rapidly warming Arctic, climate policy assumes a particular importance for Inuit regions. This paper argues that efforts to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are urgent if we are to avoid runaway climate change in the Arctic, but unlikely to prevent changes which will be dangerous for Inuit. In this context, a new policy discourse on climate change is required for Arctic regions—one that focuses on adaptation. The paper demonstrates that states with Inuit populations and the international community in general has obligations to assist Inuit to adapt to climate change through international human rights and climate change treaties. However, the adaptation deficit, in terms of what we know and what we need to know to facilitate successful adaptation, is particularly large in an Arctic context and limiting the ability to develop response options. Moreover, adaptation as an option of response to climate change is still marginal in policy negotiations and Inuit political actors have been slow to argue the need for adaptation assistance. A new focus on adaptation in both policy negotiations and scientific research is needed to enhance Inuit resilience and reduce vulnerability in a rapidly changing climate.

Past Solar Initiatives in First Nation Communities

T'Sou-ke Nation Photovoltaic Demonstration Project