Arctic communities and governments took major steps toward reducing reliance on diesel fuel at the Arctic Renewable Energy Summit in Iqaluit, including entering into discussions to establish a Nunavut Renewable Energy Partnership.
This week’s summit was organized by WWF-Canada and co-hosted by the Government of Canada, Government of Nunavut and the Qulliq Energy Corp. (the electricity utility for Nunavut).
Summit attendees also heard that investment in a mix of renewable energy in remote northern communities could lead to significant reductions in diesel use and in diesel power-plant operations and maintenance costs. A feasibility study, commissioned by WWF-Canada, provided a deeper level of analysis and confirmed the results. The full study will be released later this fall.
For the Nunavut community of Sanikiluaq, the study found that 50% penetration of renewable energy will lead to a 35% reduction in diesel use and savings of nearly $2 million over 10 years. The community of Arviat in Nunavut see a 40% reduction in diesel fuel use and cost reductions of about $2.5 million with a renewable energy penetration of 60%.
Other key developments at the summit include a net metering program in Nunavut to be in place next spring, a renewable energy training program fund, and discussions to create a formal partnership to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy in the Canadian Arctic.
The summit also saw Inuit community members voice their concerns about the changing climate and share stories of sea-ice loss and species never before seen so far north. Traditional knowledge from Inuit community members – who intimately know the behavior of the winds, sun, plants and animals – is a critical component of WWF-Canada's work in the Arctic. They stressed that renewable-energy deployment must be affordable and take into account the species they depend on for their survival.