Renewable Energy

The common challenges for a renewable future in the territories are compounded in Nunavut. These include: limited electrical grid connectivity, an extremely cold climate, limited demand, a sparse population, and dependency on fossil fuels remain persistent challenges to the growth of renewable energy in Canada’s most remote territory [i].

In spite of these challenges, solar projects, both for electricity and heat, have been developed in the territory to capitalize on the long summer days. The amount of solar energy along the Hudson Bay coast is comparable to the amount of solar energy that reaches southern Quebec, much of Ontario, and the Maritimes [ii].  Nunavut’s solar developments include:

  • A 3-kW solar photovoltaic system on the Arctic College in Iqaluit. Operating since 1995, it captures up to 20 hours of sunlight per day during the longest days of summer;
  • A soon-to-be installed 10-kW solar photovoltaic system on the Arviat recreation center;
  • A soon-to-be installed 4-kW solar photovoltaic system on the community freezer in Kugaaruk

Three wind energy pilot projects have been attempted in Nunavut, all of which were diesel grid connected:

  • One turbine was installed in Cambridge Bay in 1994 and operated until 1999;
  • Two turbines operated in Kugluktuk from 1997 to 2002;
  • One turbine in Rankin Inlet operated from 2000 to 2001, was refurbished in October 2008 but ultimately decommissioned.

According to the Nunavut government, all three demonstration projects experienced equipment malfunctions, issues with routine maintenance and financial challenges [iii].

In terms of hydro power, assessments of hydroelectric potential have been completed for various locations near Iqaluit and in the Kivalliq region. Although the demand for electricity in many Nunavut communities is currently too low to make hydroelectric development economic, future mining developments may create opportunities that justify such an investment [iv].

Further, the potential for tidal energy along its coasts and biofuels from fish waste is also under consideration.

[i] A Northern Vision. n.d. Renewable Energy Inventory,

[ii] Nunavut Energy, n.d. Renewable Energy.

[iii] Nunavut Energy, n.d. Renewable Energy.

[iv] Nunavut Energy, n.d. Renewable Energy.

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