Hydropower the Key to Northern Development

Publication: Global Business Reports
Issue: November 2012
Issue Title: Territories Mining and Exploration 2012

One thing everyone can agree on is the need for a reliable source of energy for any form of existence in the Canadian north. With the extreme cold and shortage of sunlight hours throughout the winter, energy for heating and light is of paramount importance. This becomes even more important for any form of mining venture where there are large power requirements to run the mine.

To date there has been almost total reliance on diesel powered electricity generation for any development outside the electrical grids of Yukon Energy in the vicinity of Whitehorse and NWTP in the vicinity of
Yellowknife, both of which are supported by hydropower. Diesel generation is expensive due to both the volatility of world oil markets and the logistical constraints involved in supplying and storing fuel for remote locations. In an ideal world it would be nice to be able to use some form of renewable energy, but obviously solar will not work in the winter months and wind power is unreliable and technically challenging in extreme winter conditions. Hydropower will, in the right locations, provide an economic alternative to diesel generation either as a diesel replacement in the summer months only, or as a complete alternative if storage can be provided. In addition, hydropower will result in a legacy asset that could provide cheap, reliable electricity to adjacent communities for many decades after the initial capital cost is paid off.