The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) announced federal investments of over $1.2 million over three years to support the study of Nunavut’s geothermal potential. The study will determine the feasibility for electricity generation and waste heat storage through geothermal means, and has the potential to reduce Nunavut’s carbon footprint and diversify the territory’s energy options.

These investments are a key part of the Government of Canada’s work with Indigenous partners, organizations, businesses and communities in supporting research and long-term strategic planning that explore alternative energy sources in the North.

“Tapping into Canada’s immense renewable energy potential is critical in remote northern communities. By investing in clean energy research, we are taking steps towards our goal that will help Canada reach net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Daniel Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister for PrairiesCan and Minister for CanNor. “This investment in geothermal research in Nunavut is a step towards reducing dependence on diesel fuel for electricity, producing more renewable energy alternatives, and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

This investment will support Qulliq Energy Corporation’s (QEC) strategic plan to develop alternate sources of energy in Nunavut. QEC is the sole generator and distributor of electrical power in the territory. Currently the electrical needs of Nunavut’s 25 communities are met by imported diesel fuel, having a significant impact on the production cost of power. It also contributes to carbon pollution, making Nunavut families and businesses vulnerable to the fluctuating costs of fuels.

[Energy Graphic]

By including renewable power in the energy supply mix, QEC will be able to foster the development of clean energy in Nunavut. Integrating renewable energy systems into the territory’s energy grid will help decrease Nunavut’s dependency on diesel fuel, enable QEC to reduce carbon emissions and promote energy self-reliance. Image credit: QEC.

The project will assess the potential of both geothermal energy and the feasibility of waste energy storage in Baker Lake, and electronic geophysical surveys to access deep subsurface conditions in Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay and Resolute Bay. The results from these initial assessments will inform preliminary research design and cost estimation for future phases of the project.

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“Geothermal energy is one of the few environmentally friendly, power generation options with the inherent ability to supply power as reliably and on demand. It is incumbent on QEC to investigate this potential in Nunavut. Funding support from our federal partners will allow the corporation to continue seeking sustainable solutions to serve the long-term energy needs of our vast territory, and further reduce the environmental impacts of our current power generation systems,” said Craig Simailak, Minister responsible for Qulliq Energy Corporation.

CanNor to invest in geothermal energy feasibility studies across Nunavut -  ReNew Canada

Geothermal drill rig in Saskatchewan. Image credit: deepcorp.ca.

The ultimate goal of these projects works towards a full assessment of Nunavut’s geothermal potential, and will contribute to updated calculations of greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the territory.

Funding for this project comes from CanNor’s Inclusive Diversification and Economic Advancement in the North (IDEANorth) program. IDEANorth makes foundational investments in economic infrastructure, sector development and capacity building to help position Northerners in the territories to take advantage of Canada’s innovation economy.

Featured image: Government of Canada.

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