In response to the need to develop knowledge about the North, INQ's founding partners (Université Laval, McGill University, and Institut national de la recherche scientifique) announced the first fundamental component of INQ's scientific program by creating three partnership research chairs. The purpose of the research chairs was to:
The three chairs overseen by INQ represent a broad range of research topics, covering renewable energy production, wildlife conservation, food security, and sustainable development of the North.
Northern geothermal potential research chair
Jasmin Raymond, INRS
The mission of the Northern geothermal potential research chair is to assess the performance of geothermal systems in cold climates, to adapt technologies with northern realities, and to root green energy in northern Québec. Access to clean and affordable energy is critical for the development of communities and natural resources north of the 49th parallel.
Hydrocarbons transported by truck, train and boat are the main source of heat and electricity in the North, a situation that comes at a high financial and environmental cost. For example, Hydro-Québec’s off-grid systems run on diesel generators that produce electricity at a cost of over $0.40/kW. This represents an annual loss of more than $125 million and results in exceedingly high greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, northern businesses additionally use fossil fuels to operate, even though they can be connected to the Hydro-Québec grid.
Ground-source heat pump systems running at very low temperatures could be used in the short term to produce heat for northern communities. On the other hand, hot aquifer resources could be tapped to generate electricity and heat using power plants and urban districts looking at the medium term. However, the extent of geothermal resources available in the North is still largely unknown. The region is vast and the thermohydraulic properties characterizing shallow and deep geothermal resources vary greatly. Thereby, research is required to demonstrate the potential of northern geothermal resources to help developing this renewable energy sector.
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MCGILL CHAIR IN NORTHERN RESEARCH – WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND TRADITIONAL FOOD SECURITY
Murray Humphries, McGill University
The Institut nordique du Québec (INQ) McGill Chair in Northern Research - Wildlife conservation and Traditional Food Security will focus on the protection and sustainable development of northern Quebec’s natural resources. In particular, research will focus on how resource development and other forms of environmental change impact the abundance and health of northern wildlife populations and their contribution to traditional food security.
Wildlife research is in the midst of a revolution, driven by the rapidly advancing field of biologging, which refers to the use of miniaturized animal-attached tags for logging and/or relaying of data about an
animal's movements, behaviour, physiology and/or environment. There is an opportunity to drastically improve how we assess, monitor, and mitigate the impacts of resource development on wildlife, by capitalizing
on new biologging technology to document wildlife movement, diet, nutrition, and demographics before and after (as well as in proximity to and distant from) resource development. This research will focus on the
wildlife species that are key sources of traditional food for northern communities and the environmental impacts that threaten these species.
The major advance and innovation offered by this proposed research arises from the new technology, which for the first time enables direct and continuous time and space documentation of the physiological, behavioural, and population impacts of development on wildlife, and embedding the new technology within applied research partnerships focused on sustainable development and food security.
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NORTHERN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CHAIR
Thierry Rodon, Université Laval
The Research Chair in Sustainable Development of the North seeks to enhance knowledge of northern issues and reframe development models to inform decision making by the provincial and federal governments and northern institutions and communities with a view to sustainable development.
The North holds tremendous economic, cultural, and symbolic potential, and the development of its resources has been a driver of Canada’s economy since the 1950s. However, although northern resources have clearly benefitted southern Québec and Canada, the benefits have been more limited for northern inhabitants. Indigenous communities and newer, resource-based communities are still too often at the mercy of development models designed in large part with a short-term perspective. These communities share several key characteristics: a peripheral position with respect to decision making, limited control over resource development, and dependence on government transfers. The North lacks infrastructure and investment, and also faces important social challenges.
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