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Renewable Energy Inventory

Wind

Wind energy technology is important to the long-term energy supply of Northern Canada. Many isolated, diesel-dependent communities in the Arctic islands of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have no source of locally available renewable energy other than solar, which is only available for half the year.

There is potential for wind technology to be developed in the North, but significant challenges remain leading to high costs. Wind turbines need to be located close to communities to reduce the cost of constructing transmission lines, and integrating wind projects with existing power producing facilities is a technical challenge. Other challenges include training of local maintenance staff and operators, locating functional technology for cold weather, and the lack of cranes for hoisting towers. As in other Canadian jurisdictions, wind development in the North requires careful testing and precise turbine placement in order to design economical wind energy projects.

Despite these challenges, over ten years of experience in Alaska has demonstrated that wind power technology can be successful in reducing the amount of imported diesel required by remote communities. Significant improvements in the control systems for wind/diesel integrated generation have been witnessed in recent years. A number of northern communities have sufficient wind resources to warrant further investigation into the feasibility of developing a full-scale wind energy project that could provide more than half of their electrical load.

Several wind energy projects have been completed or are being constructed in the territories. The Nunavut power utility company, Qulliq Energy Corporation, is working toward installing a windhydrogen- diesel generation plant in Cape Dorset, with hopes of deploying similar technology in other communities. Nunavut also has a 66 kilowatt (kW) turbine in operation in the town of Rankin Inlet.

The largest wind turbines in the North stand prominently on Haeckel Hill near Whitehorse in Yukon. These turbines have an installed capacity of 800 kW and have been operating since the 1990s.

The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories is promoting a regional hub-and-spoke model based on the Alaskan experience. A 300 kW wind power project in Tuktoyaktuk could be operating as early as the summer of 2012. Building on the capacities raised from that project (the hub) can help to implement wind power in smaller, more remote communities in the region (the spokes) where some of the most promising wind regimes have been measured.

Figure 6
Current and Planned Wind Projects
Figure 6 outlines current and planned wind projects in the North.
Note: all graph data is from 2007.

 
Photos courtesy of Patrick Kane/Up Here, Dianne Villesèche/www.ravenink.ca and ArcticNet. © 2016 A Northern Vision