Green Energy, Better Option for Canadians in Arctic

by loganmericer on October 7, 2016 - 8:22pm

Article Title: Wind, solar energy real options for Canada's remote Arctic communities

Shifting away from dependence on non-renewable energy sources (i.e. diesel) to renewable sources (i.e. solar and wind) is not only better for the environment but also for Arctic community pocket books. Communities living in Canada’s Arctic have the greatest involvement in regards to this matter. Energy companies and government are also involved.

The article presents information that supports the switch to green energy sources. One issue that has potential issue of this switch is adhering to Qulliq Energy’s Corporation’s polices and approval procedures. An environmental concern regarding wind energy is the turbines causing migration interference for wildlife (i.e. caribou). The greatest problem when trying to switching energy sources is getting full involvement from communities. Change of energy sources needs to follow the bottom-up approach by starting with communities demanding the change. To ensure this switch is feasible communities need to convince the government to implement funds, grants, and provide loans for green energy projects to allow for these changes to proceed.

One solution is to change the way of thinking of individuals in the communities. There needs to be a solid understanding that a reduction in non-renewable energy benefits the environment as there resources will be reserved and there will be a reduction in carbon emissions. This switch will also provide major economic benefits due to lower operational and maintenance costs. To ensure operations run with minimal issues it is suggested in the article that communities learn from mistakes of others that have already gone through this process (i.e. Alaska).

The feasibility of this switch can be proven by the example of Arviat, where approximately 60% of community power can come green energy sources resulting in a reduction on diesel energy by 40%. This switch would save almost $2.4 million dollars over a 10 year period.  

Canada is a settler’s society and our economy is mainly generated from extraction and gaining income from those resources. Aboriginal knowledge and belief is strongly invested in protection of the environment. It is my belief that these communities will therefore not oppose switching from dirty to clean energy. My reaction to this article is positive as non-renewable energy sources are now becoming less superior and green technologies now have the chance to change the energy market. I have hard feelings towards the government as there is a lack of fuel subsidies. It is well known that carbon emissions are a major threat for the future and in my opinion governments should be in full support of switching away from non-renewable energy. Governments should provide incentives to communities that make the better choice by choosing green energy. An issue not addressed in the article is potential loss of jobs in the long run. Green energy is independent and requires minimal maintenance. Therefore loss of jobs may be a result of this shift away from diesel. This would have negative impacts on the community such as finical stress and cognitive stress by dependence on government financial assistance. Community conflict may arise as a result due to different values on environmental protection and wanting to modernize. One aspect to address would be who would be gaining the finical savings is there is a switch in energy sources. There will be interest conflicts on industries wanting to benefit economically whereas communities might want to ensure the environment is protected or jobs are provided to community members.

Article Link: http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/canada/north/wind-solar-energy-arctic-1.3766381

Comments

This was a very interesting read! I know there has been increasing pressure from many interest groups to switch to from non-renewable to renewable energy, but it had never occurred to me that renewable energy could be a feasible option for the Arctic. It makes a lot of sense to try to incorporate these types of projects in this area as energy use is probably very high due to the need for heating in homes! You have to wonder though how practical solar energy would be though with a lack of sunlight in half of the year. I think you touch on a really important issue that these projects must be from the “bottom-up” and have full community involvement. In the past I think there was not enough consideration given to this thought, especially with resource extraction in many areas, and as a result could cause community support more challenging to obtain…This will definitely be an exciting story to follow!

Hi Ferrise,

Thanks for the read and the feedback provided. I really liked your comment about the Arctic most likely having high energy uses due the increased demand for heating of the buildings and home located in the Arctic. I never really thought about their increased demand for heating due to colder seasonal temperature. Switching to a ‘greener’ source of energy would most likely see greater benefits in an area that has higher energy demands. I also like the concern you brought up about the practicality of the use of solar energy in the Arctic due to less sunlight for part of the year. I would definitely agree with you that this is something that would have to be addressed for solar energy to be considered a reliable source of energy. The Arctic is in darkness for an extended period of time during the year and for another extended period of time is in full sunlight. Due to this extra sunlight that is present for part of the year maybe it would be possible with technology to take full advantage of this sunlight and store the extra energy. The stored energy could then be used during the winter seasons when the Arctic is in full darkness.

Thanks again for the comment, you brought up things that I had not thought of before.

Logan Mercier

Reference: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/arctic-zone/gallery_np_seasons.html

Hi there,
Great post and article choice! I was drawn to your piece because your succinct title caught my attention and I am quite interested the topic of green energy, especially lately with all the movements against pipelines (NoDALP). I think for remote areas it makes so much more sense to generate power locally and in fragile environments like the Arctic it is obvious the need for adaptation to green technology is needed. I also think that ground-up movements away from oil will be easier in less populated areas and those with First Nations communities because of the value placed on the environment in traditional knowledge. I have heard that the Arctic is considered a 'toxic sinkhole' because of the accumulation of pollutants recorded in the ice record, so I imagine that evidence of climate change and oil industry effects is easy to come by up North, which may also make the transition easier and seem more relevant for Arctic citizens. Overall, informative and easy to understand. I like the connections you made to our course content too!

Hi SorayaOh,

Thank you for the read and the comments you provided. I am really pleased to hear that you too are interested in green energy. I personally believe it is an important aspect of our future energy demands. I agree with you that the Arctic is definitely to be considered to be a more remote location especially when comparing to local cities near us (i.e. Toronto). For that reason I do support your comment in that the Arctic would benefit from energy sources that are produced locally. I especially feel that it too fits in with their traditional beliefs and support for the environment. I think communities will want to do their part to have the lowest impact on the environment and will support their communities relying on green energy sources. I have never heard the Arctic being referenced as a ‘toxic sinkhole’ but I do know from other courses that the ice traps what every lands on the snow and what is in the atmosphere. This has allowed for scientists to get very accurate and reliable information in regards to past climatic conditions. If there is a switch from non-renewable to green energy hopefully the Arctic snow/ and ice will not be so ‘toxic’.

Thanks,

Logan Mercier