Recent Developments in Renewable Energy in Remote Aboriginal Communities, NWT, Canada

Konstantinos Karanasios, Paul Parker


Remote aboriginal communities in Canada’s Northwest Territories are starting an energy transition from high cost, carbon-intensive diesel powered electricity to greater local reliance on renewable sources of electricity. This paper reviews 25 remote communities’ electricity systems, past renewable electricity projects, as well as provincial targets and policies for the introduction of renewable electricity alternatives. Besides small hydro-electricity projects and the future extension and interconnection of the two local grids, the transition to cleaner electricity systems is promoted through climate change policy emission targets and financial incentives focusing on solar photovoltaic applications (up to 20% of local generation capacity in the short term). The development of solar projects in 19 remote communities between 2009 and 2016, mainly under net metering agreements, in addition to two recent utility owned solar installations developed in cooperation with communities, and a community owned solar plant under a power purchase agreement with the local utility, represent successful deployment models that increase community benefits and improve environmental performance. Finally, the private sector has demonstrated the financial feasibility of commercial scale wind technology at the remote Diavik diamond mine, documented the diesel and carbon savings and enabled these lessons to be transferred to future developments.

Keywords: Northwest Territories, remote aboriginal communities, indigenous communities, diesel, renewable electricity, energy transition, climate action

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