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Hydropower

Embracing the power of water

Water is one of the oldest and most powerful natural resources that humanity has harnessed to produce electricity. The most common renewable energy solutions fed by water are hydroelectric power plants. Traditional Hydro power plants require a reservoir and flooding, while less invasive technology, called “run-of-river” does not. In both options, the water acts as a force that moves spinning turbines, which in turn drives alternators to produce electricity. The energy produced varies according to the river flow and is fed directly into the grid. Hydropower is able to meet the baseload demands of most electrical grids.

Reservoir hydropower plant

Reservoir hydropower technology uses a dam to flood an area and store water in a reservoir. When released from the reservoir, the water flows through a turbine and activates a generator to produce electricity.

Examples of multi megawatt projects in Quebec:

Romaine Complexe

Manic-5

Bersimis

Run-of-river hydropower plant

This technology uses the natural down-flow of elevated lakes, rivers or streams to produce electricity. A run-of-river plant requires a penstock – a large pipe – to channel the natural water flow through turbines and produce electricity. Small hydroelectric power plants are the most appropriate solution for Nunavik.

Examples of power plants and multi-megawatt projects in Québec :

Innavik

Beauharnois

Grande 1

Energy facts

Did you know?

he Innavik Project is born from a strong partnership between Pituvik Landholding Corporation and Innergex Renewable Energy Inc. This 7.5 MW run-of-river hydroelectric facility in Inukjuak offers the opportunity to  eliminate or reduce the community’s reliance on diesel for electricity production and for building heating. The project inauguration is planned for the summer of 2023

Solar Energy

Embracing the power of the sun

Solar energy converts sunlight directly into electricity thanks to photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. As these panels can be mounted on the ground or fixed to small and large buildings, solar power is one of the most accessible, low cost and versatile forms of renewable energy production. Solar energy should be used in conjunction with another source of energy production or be equipped with an energy storage system, as production is variable.

Powering cabins during beluga hunt!

In 2023, Tarquti is joining forces with the Local Nunavimmi Umajulirijiit Katujiqatigininga (LNUK) to design a solar panel system for their members to power the freezers of the six remote hunting camps. Tarquti has designed and shipped 6 custom solar power kits to Kangirsuk, and the Association will proceed with installing these new systems. This will ensure that food caught on behalf of the community will remain safe to eat even if hunted in the heat of the summer.

Cabin kit

With the growing demand for solar energy in Nunavik, Tarquti has designed Siqinirsiutik, a plug-and-play off-grid solar system designed to supply the basic electricity needed for things like lighting, VHF radios, power internet, charge small devices, and operate freezers on the land. This pilot project aims to assess the performance of this technology before it’s deployed at the regional level.

Building rooftop system

Similar to ground-mount systems, building rooftop solar solutions convert sunlight directly into electricity with photovoltaic (PV) solar panel technology. Whether for homeowners or commercial buildings, solar panels are a proven technology with good overall yearly potential in Nunavik. Tarquti wishes to integrate the energy produced by these rooftop solar panels into the Hydro-Quebec grid. This could help reduce diesel consumption in the communities and therefore the emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Ground-mount plant

Similar to the building system, ground-mount solar solutions convert sunlight directly into electricity thanks to photovoltaic (PV) solar panels technology. Ground-mount solar panels are installed on a structure fixed to the ground in small to large arrays (solar farm). When the sun shines, these solar farms can power a whole community.

Energy Facts

Did you know?

Yes. Solar panels produce maximum energy in full sun, a little less energy on cloudy days, and no energy at night. The system contains a powerful battery that stores excess energy and hands it back when solar panels do not produce enough energy.

Yes! Solar panels are proven to perform at their highest capacity in colder environments. However, lithium and lead batteries do not perform to their maximum capacity during colder days and should be placed in heated containers to use them efficiently. In case the container is not heated, lithium batteries have better performance in cold temperatures than lead batteries. The shorter periods of sunshine in winter obviously produce less energy than in summer. This is when the electricity stored in the battery during the summer replaces the electricity the diesel generator would otherwise produce.

Source :
cbc.ca

Quaqtaq. In 2018, the community of Quaqtaq collaborated with Hydro-Québec to put into service the first ground-mount system in Nunavik, involving the installation of 69 solar panels. The photovoltaic modules’ capacity is 2% of that of the thermal generating station that powers the community. This new technology could reduce fuel consumption by 5,000 litres a year, providing substantial environmental and economic benefits.

Sources :
ledevoir.com
evloenergie.com

Kuujjuaq. In the summer of 2022, Kuujjuamiut Inc.’s General Manager, Jason Aitchison, led the installation of a 100 kW solar-power system to cover all of the Arena’s energy use during the summer months. This project also generates enough surplus to feed the grid. It was possible thanks to Natural Resources Canada’s – Indigenous Off-Diesel Initiative.

Wind energy

Embracing the power of the wind

Nunavik is rich in world-class wind resources. Wind produces electricity through the rotation of turbine blades connected to a generator. Wind technologies should be used in conjunction with another source of energy production or be equipped with a storage system, as production is variable.There are three standard sizes of wind turbines: small, medium and large.

Small wind turbines
(2-25-meter high)

Produce less than 100 kW and are ideal to supply small scale residential needs. These turbines, however, are not adapted to Nunavik’s icing and cold climates.

Medium wind turbines
(20-60-meter high)

Produce between 100 to 999 kW and are typically used for agriculture, remote or isolated areas, or certain mines and industries. In Nunavik, these turbines could be interesting, because they can be equipped with a folding tower for extreme weather and wind gusts. The supply, however, would be difficult.

Large wind turbines
(46-180-meter high)

Produce more than 1,000kW and are ideal for onshore and offshore wind farms to supply power to the grid. In Nunavik, these turbines are the most mature technology and best suited to the cold climate. Despite the logistical and construction challenges, they have already been successfully tested in other arctic climates.

Energy facts

Did you know?

There are 7 wind measurement towers, also known as a met tower, in Nunavik. They are temporary 60-meter-high structures held in place by steel cables anchored to the ground. In 2021, Tarquti installed 5 towers in Kangiqsujuaq, Kuujjuaq, Puvirnituq, Quaqtaq and Salluit. In the summer of 2023, 2 additional communities Kangirsuk and Kangiqsualujjuaq will start collecting data on wind speed and direction as well as sun radiation, temperature, and other weather information.

There are 2 wind turbines in Nunavik. Since 2014, Raglan Mine and the Glencore group have saved millions of litres of diesel every year thanks to its two wind turbines (2014, 2018) installed at the mine site. According to the developer press release, both turbines will annually abate 4.4 million litres of diesel and 12,000 tons in GHG.

Other Technologies

Multiple solutions for different locations and resources

There are various renewable energy options available globally, but not every solution is suitable for the Arctic climate and local conditions. It is crucial to have a comprehensive knowledge of all the available possibilities to ensure they meet the needs and preferences of the community.

In this context, Tarquti, Hydro-Québec and Nergica launched a major collaborative research project in 2022 to expand knowledge on various types of green technologies and the integration of renewable energies into Nunavik’s distribution network.

Some of the findings of the research are presented in the different energy options below. It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive presentation of these technologies. It is therefore important to consider certain nuances. If you have any specific questions about the information presented, please contact us!

Tidal energy

Tidal power harnesses the potential energy of the tides in coastal areas where the amplitude is high enough to generate electricity. A tidal power plant is made up of two basins separated by a dam, which are used to turn turbines. In Nunavik, particularly in the communities around Ungava Bay, the energy potential of the tides is excellent, as they are very strong. Furthermore, tidal energy production is predictable, unlike variable technologies such as wind and solar power.

However, the technology to harness this energy potential in Nunavik lacks maturity: no tidal power plants are operating in a cold, isolated environment at this time. The turbines would have to be fully submerged to be realistically adapted to the cold climate and frazil [1].

What’s more, this technology is still costly to install. According to the US Department of Energy (DoE), on average, tidal power costs $130-280/MWh, compared with $20/MWh for wind power. These values are not necessarily valid for Nunavik, but one might assume that the difference would be even more significant.

Studies investigating the opportunities and challenges of tidal power took place in 2021 in Cook Inlet, Alaska. The results will help developers to have more efficient, economical, and resilient devices. Further studies are planned between 2023 and 2025 for the same region.

Source :
[1] mspace.lib.umanitoba.ca

Nuclear energy

Nuclear power uses the fission of uranium or thorium to produce energy. The Small Modular Reactor (SMR) is a technology that produces less energy than a conventional nuclear power plant but is theoretically sufficient for unconventional sites where energy needs are lower.

As the technology is installed inside a building, it is suitable for use in cold climates and isolated regions, a significant advantage in the Nunavik context. Nuclear power produces energy predictably and constantly, unlike variable technologies such as wind and solar power.

MRPs with a capacity of less than 25 MW are currently being developed and licensed. MRPs currently on the market range from 35 to 300 MW [1]. This is far too high for the energy needs of a Nunavik community. Half of all communities require less than 1 MW on average. If nuclear energy could also be used for heating, the average power requirement would be 3 MW. This demand is still well below that of the MRPs. They are, therefore, not well suited to Nunavik’s energy needs.

The operation and maintenance of this technology require a highly skilled local workforce. Radioactive waste management is also complex, and although the risk of accidents is shallow, their impact would devastate the environment. For these reasons, nuclear power is usually more challenging for communities to accept.

Source :
[1] world-nuclear.org

Biomass

Biomass cogeneration systems (CHP) produce electricity and heat using wood gas recovered from forest biomass in pellet form. These systems are sold turnkey and installed in containers. They are specially designed for remote areas with more minor, variable energy requirements. The heat produced can be used in a district heating network to heat buildings.

As the technology is installed inside a building, it is suitable for use in cold climates and isolated regions, an essential advantage in the Nunavik context.

This technology is currently installed in the community of Kwadacha [1] in northern British Columbia. The project was made possible by almost 4 million cubic metres of forest biomass in the vicinity of the community – the equivalent of 400 American soccer fields filled to human height.

Nunavik, on the other hand, does not produce forest biomass, as its vegetation is mainly tundra (shrubs, grasses, and mosses). This poses significant logistical challenges and costs: pellets must be imported from elsewhere and properly stored to maintain a precise, controlled moisture content. The volume to be stored is 2 to 3 times that of diesel for the same amount of electricity produced.

Then, to be used, a community heat network must also be in place so that the heat produced can circulate. Such systems do not exist in Nunavik villages.

Source :
[1] closingtheloop.ca
[2] news.gov.bc.ca

Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy uses the heat in the air, water or steam contained in the ground to generate electricity or heat. Unlike variable technologies such as wind and solar power, geothermal energy produces predictable and constant output. There are two types of geothermal energy: surface and deep.

  1.   Surface geothermal: surface geothermal power plants recover heat from the ground for building-scale heating. They use a heat pump installed on the building to circulate fluid through pipes buried between 20 and 400 metres below ground, where the temperature is stable near freezing all year-round in Nunavik. These pipes recover and concentrate the heat from the ground to heat the building.

    A system using surface geothermal energy has been in operation in Fairbanks, Alaska, since 2013. The pipes were installed at depths between 2.4 and 2.7 metres, as recommended for geothermal heat exchange systems in Alaska. The system produces 3 kWh of heat but requires 1 kWh of electricity to operate [1].

  2.   Deep geothermal: deep geothermal power plants recover energy from steam or liquid water heated by rocks deep in the Earth (2 km or more). This energy is used to generate heat or electricity using a turbine.

A team of INRS researchers is investigating whether using deep geothermal reservoirs in Kuujjuaq is economically viable. Preliminary results indicate that the depth required for attractive potential in Kuujjuaq would be a minimum of 4 km, and probably deeper for communities further north.

Deploying deep geothermal power plants poses many challenges for Nunavik:

  •   An energy source is required to operate the geothermal system. The system would ideally have to be paired with a renewable energy source, significantly increasing the project’s complexity.

  •   The logistics involved in building a 4 km-deep geothermal power plant in a Nunavik village, coupled with another renewable energy source, would be enormous and require relocating facilities, connecting, constructing, drilling, etc. In addition, most communities don’t have access to a geothermal power plant.

  • Most communities are not equipped to receive heating in their buildings, as there is no heating network. Significant additional costs would have to be anticipated.

Finally, geothermal power plants have never been tested in climatic conditions similar to those in our region. Still, the current studies will enable us to assess more clearly whether this option could be attractive despite its challenges.

Source :
[1] cchrc.org
[2] wikipedia.org (ref)
[3] justenergy.com (ref)
[4] nrel.gov
[5] boem.gov (ref)
[6] hydroquebec.com (ref)

Tidal turbines

 Tidal turbines generate energy in a predictable (rather than variable) way, by rotating blades that are driven by the force of ocean currents from tides, rivers or streams.

While Nunavik’s energy potential for tidal turbines is attractive, and tidal turbines are relatively easy to deploy, the technology presents several challenges.

  •   Tidel turbine’s adaptation to the cold climate has not been sufficiently tested: The impact of ice and frazil on the production and maintenance of these turbines can be significant and is not sufficiently documented.

  •   Access to infrastructure for maintenance in winter can be very complex, if not impossible.

  •   Transmission lines must be very long and can be affected by icing.

What’s more, the environmental consequences have not been assessed over a long enough period. The impact on marine life remains highly uncertain.

A large quantity of equipment would also be required to meet the energy needs of a Nunavik community. For Kuujjuaq, for example, nearly a hundred water turbines would be needed. Finally, the project cost of this technology is high compared to other solutions [1]. For these reasons, this technology is not considered mature enough for Nunavik.

Two RivGen 35 kW ORPC tidal turbines are in operation in the Alaskan community of Igiugig until 2029 to study the cold-climate performance of this technology and its impact on the environment [2] [3].

Sources:
[1] latamt.org
[2] energy.org
[3] fisheries.gov