Solar-plus-storage approaching the North Pole

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Canada’s Ministry of Natural Resources will invest around $3.5 million (US$2.6 million) in two projects aimed at helping rural and remote indigenous communities in its Northwest Territories reduce diesel consumption.

One of the two projects, worth approximately $3.3 million, will deploy a 1.25 MW/1.5 MWh solar-plus-storage facility to serve three businesses and 32 residential units in Inuvik and Iqaluit, the ministry said, adding the power supply will come almost exclusively from solar during spring and summer months. “This project will improve electricity reliability, create local employment and generate 1.25 MW of new reliable electricity annually, cutting local diesel consumption by 380,000 liters per year,” a statement added.

Funding is being provided by the Canadian government under its Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities program. The scheme supports solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and bioenergy electricity projects.

High power costs

The Northwest Territories’ largest current PV installation is a 100 kW ground-mounted array developed by the Northwest Territories Power Corporation in Fort Simpson. The $1 million project was funded by the province’s departments of Environment and Natural Resources and Industry, Tourism and Investment.

The Northern Territories may become interesting for solar development due to the high cost of electricity in the region.

The competitiveness of solar power in Canada is dependent on geography, as power prices can vary greatly between the country’s 10 provinces and three territories, according to a report by the Canadian National Energy Board. Although the study says that Canada’s cloudy west coast, and Newfoundland and Labrador, are not the best geographic areas for solar energy development, the project now announced by the Ministry of Natural Resources shows PV is mature enough to replace diesel power.