Technical-social solutions to expand the use of renewable energy from Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik to other regions of Nunavik
One of the growing challenges facing Canadians is the sustainable development of the North. While Canada is gradually shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy in the South, remote Indigenous communities live in a context of heat and electricity production that is strictly dependent on diesel, which is heavily subsidized.
Faced with the spectacular transformations that northern regions are undergoing as a result of climate change, a few initiatives to deploy clean technologies have emerged, but their scope remains limited, particularly due to temporal variations in the amounts of sunshine and wind. To achieve mass deployment of these technologies, it is necessary to address the issues of renewable heat supply and long-term energy storage in cold regions. This is the main objective of this research project, which relies on a multi-sectoral approach to tackle this issue, both technically and societally. To this end, the Centre d'études nordiques research complex in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik will serve as a living laboratory to develop a concept for the integration of hybrid energy systems that can be extended to other villages in Nunavik.
We will first establish a balance sheet of the complex's energy consumption. Then, a building model will be developed to simulate the impact of hybrid energy solutions (biomass, solar photovoltaic, wind, geothermal) and determine the scope of savings and the reduction in the carbon footprint. We will also consider the human behaviours that influence energy consumption and are sometimes difficult to predict.
To accelerate the deployment of a diverse energy portfolio, we will conduct a rigorous analysis of the regulatory and policy frameworks. We will use a multi-sectoral approach to adapt energy system implementation methods to the economic development mechanisms advocated by Indigenous populations, in order to ensure the harmonious integration of technologies.
The proposed work will make it possible to define and optimize energy management strategies adapted not only to the polar climate, but also to the northern socio-political context. The potential benefits of this project are major. With viable energy production and storage solutions, renewable energy technologies will finally be able to meet a broader range of needs and play their rightful role in the sustainable development of the North.