Nunavut visitors turned on by Nuuk hydro scheme
Hydro generation pays off as oil costs rise
A delegation from Nunavut’s Qulliq Energy Corp. visited Greenland last week to see how a hydro-electric project near Nuuk is supplying clean, renewable and locally available power to the city.
Greenland’s 36-megawatt power plant opened in Kangerluarsunnguaq, 50 kilometres south of Nuuk, in October 1993. The plant is operated by Greenland Energy Supply/Nukissiorfiit.
This is how the plant works: dammed water from the Tassiliq reservoir flows through huge turbines located deep underground. This produces electricity, which is then sent via a high transmission line half a kilometre across the Ameralik fiord — the longest span in the world, where the power then continues to Nuuk.
“That’s impressive,” said Jamie Flaherty, vice-president of Qulliq.
Flaherty visited the hydro-electric facility with a delegation representing the City of Iqaluit, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, the hamlets of Pangnirtung and Kimmirut as well as hunters and trappers associations.
Flaherty compared their tour of the underground power plant to a set right out of a James Bond movie.
But the real-life advantages of the hydro-electric project were evident — even to representatives from the hunters and trappers associations, who have expressed concern about the environmental impacts of hydro-electric generation.
The entire facility in Greenland cost $220 million to build. This capital investment will be recuperated over time, and even more quickly than anticipated due to rising oil prices.
But the hydro-electric plant’s immediate advantage over a diesel power plant is that it is producing environmentally friendly and reliable energy. This power, which is offered to industry at a lower rate, also encourages economic activity.
Greenland’s experience in Kangerluarsunnguaq is interesting to Qulliq because the power corporation is already studying eight sites for similar hydro-electric projects around Iqaluit.
“We’ve been really addicted to oil to heat everything,” Flaherty said. “But, here, we do have alternatives to fossil fuel.”
Over the summer, Qulliq issued a request for proposals for hydro-electric generation site surveys in locations around Iqaluit, awarding the contact to Knights Piésold Ltd., based out of Vancouver. Its evaluation and ranking study should be completed early next year.
Previous locations under consideration have included Anna Maria Port, Apex River, Armstrong River, Sylvia Grinnell River, Ward Inlet, Burton Bay, Jordan River and McKeand River. The assessment under way now will touch on such aspects as hydro potential, transmission distances, capital and energy production costs and environmental considerations.
When the final choices are made, the project will still be 10 years from operation.
And that won’t be a moment too soon as Flaherty is worried about Iqaluit’s growing hunger for fuel — which is going up by 10 per cent a year.
Iqaluit uses about a third of Nunavut’s entire consumption of 39 million litres a year. This equals about 275 barrels a day. But in 10 years, it will take more than 500 barrels a day to meet the same power needs.
A future hydro-electric project for Iqaluit could also potentially be connected to the nearest community — either Pangnirtung or Kimmirut.
A hydro-electric project near Iqaluit might also be able to receive substantial financial assistance from the federal government. That’s because changing from diesel-powered plants would help Canada meet its goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.