IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 55

Electricity Generation
most of the n&rcs supply electricity via hydro and oilbased resources; the energy mix varies significantly by
location, however. total n&rc installed capacity is estimated at 615 mw, with 190 mw of hydropower, 330 mw
of diesel generators, 67 mw of heavy fuel oil generators,
and more than 7.7 mw of natural gas turbines, with the
remaining capacity consisting of relatively small wind and
solar systems (see figure 6). in British columbia, manitoba,
newfoundland and labrador, nunavut, and ontario, diesel
generators are the main power source for the rcs; only a
few communities use hydropower as a secondary electricity
source. the northwest territories and the yukon have relatively large distribution systems with hydropower as their
primary energy source, and only some smaller rcs use diesel fuel as their main energy source for electricity generation. in the northwest territories, there are two communities
with natural gas facilities; this is possible mainly because of
the existence of on-site deposits, with no fuel transportation
july/august 2014

180
160
Installed Capacity (MW)

concern. non-Aboriginal groups are found mainly in British columbia, newfoundland and labrador, and the yukon.
from an electric perspective, these communities represent isolated microgrids and grids that range from 100 kw
to 150 mw of installed capacity. figure 5 categorizes such
installations based on their installed capacity. the relatively
large urban centers have installed capacities that are typically greater than 20 mw and are usually supplied by hydro
or fuel-oil sources; these large communities usually supply
a large central load as well as nearby satellite communities
through a distribution system usually in the 4.6-25 kV voltage range. there are six communities in the 5-20-mw range
(shown using orange and blue); they are mostly supplied by
diesel fuel for electricity generation. the rest are microgrids
(shown in yellow and red) with capacities of less than 5 mw
and limited transportation access. figure 5 also shows communities where data were not available (in green). Based on
population density, however, most of these communities are
likely to have an installed capacity of less than 1 mw, with
diesel fuel as their main source for generating electricity.
the diversity of these communities also extends to the
type of utility operating the generation and distribution systems. nearly 65% of the n&rcs are supplied by provincial
or territory-wide utilities, and the remaining sites are operated by community-owned utilities. energy information for
large province-wide utilities is typically easier to acquire
since such organizations have a large database infrastructure. from an operational perspective, they also have sufficient technical and economic resources available to maintain
systems running efficiently. in contrast, information from
community-based utilities is difficult to acquire, and from
the limited information available, it is reasonable to assume
they are likely to have limited operation and maintenance
programs. these independent utilities are mostly in British
columbia and ontario.

140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
AB BC MB NL NT NU ON QC SK YT
Province/Territory
Heavy Oil
Wind
Diesel
Solar
Hydro
Natural Gas
Estimated (Likely Diesel)

figure 6. N&RC electrical equipment installed capacity,
by province and energy source.

required. Quebec has three large grids running with different sources: the lac robertson and schefferville systems run
on hydropower, while the Îles-de-la-madeleine system is the
only off-grid plant in canada running on heavy fuel oil, with
a significantly higher efficiency than diesel. the rest of the
Quebec communities are small and run on diesel generators.
if large hydropower facilities are excluded, re has yet
to make a significant contribution to the energy mix in the
n&rcs. As previously mentioned, there are relevant past
and ongoing studies and projects that are slowly paving the
way to overcoming the technical, social, economic, and
political barriers preventing significant re growth. Based
on existing diesel-based capacity, there is significant potential for re to contribute to the development of n&rcs if the
various issues associated with re cost, deployment, operation, and maintenance are properly addressed.
diesel-based equipment operation is, as expected and
for the reasons analyzed in the next section, a key driver
of the high energy costs found in n&rcs. the equipment
and facilities employed in n&rcs certainly show some

figure 7. Air access is the only means of transportation
available for some RCs during certain seasons of the year.
ieee power & energy magazine

55



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover3
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