Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) is committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy across the territory of Nunavut. Canada's newest, largest and most northern territory is almost 100% dependent on diesel fuel for power generation and a small amount of district heat, through the operation of 25 stand‐alone diesel power plants in 25 remote fly-in Arctic communities. Employing approximately 200 people, QEC is a territorial corporation wholly owned by the Government of Nunavut.
Nunavut's 15,000 customers pay the highest unsubsidized electricity rates in Canada. Each year, approximately 55 million litres of diesel fuel are sealifted to Nunavut communities during the limited summer shipping season when the sea ice breaks up. Sealift costs, lack of grid interconnection between communities, and extreme northern weather conditions, makes servicing two million square kilometers of land and sea uniquely challenging.
QEC works closely with key stakeholders to support initiatives that align with the Government of Nunavut's mandate to develop and manage renewable and non-renewable resources for the long-term benefit of Nunavummiut (the people of Nunavut). QEC's desire to transition from fossil fuel to alternative energy generation is driven by environmental considerations, the need to decrease dependence on imported fuel, and the impact of fluctuating oil prices. The high capital costs of transition and the unreliability of clean energy sources under Arctic conditions are the biggest challenges to the implementation of alternative power generation in Nunavut. Significant financial resources are required to test and build alternative energy facilities. Currently, QEC's limited financial resources are needed to maintain and rebuild aging diesel generation facilities that are operating beyond their lifespan.
Like other northern jurisdictions, QEC is keenly interested in alternative energy development if it can reduce environmental impacts and mitigate the high costs of diesel fuel power generation. QEC considers Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as one of the power generation options for remote off-grid communities. SMRs have the potential to offset diesel use with zero emissions and reduce the territory's annual sealift fuel delivery. SMR designs are expected to be capable of integrating Nunavut's emerging supplies of solar PV and wind systems, while creating jobs and bolstering energy security. These factors, along with the anticipated added benefits of heating and desalination features, are of significant interest to QEC and could potentially support our efforts in moving toward a cleaner energy future. For these reasons, QEC supports Canada's SMR Action Plan.
Due to the limited information available on SMRs operating challenges in the Arctic, QEC is currently only in the research stage, acquiring information on the technical viability and financial considerations of SMRs.
The transition to new power systems for our remote communities depends heavily on the acceptance of Nunavummiut. In 2018, feedback on SMRs from northern communities showed limited knowledge of nuclear power generation with significant apprehension around the safety of its use. If QEC begins to explore the implementation of SMRs, community consultation is legally required, supported by extensive research documentation on nuclear technology use in the Arctic. Nunavummiut must feel confident that adequate and accessible information, with opportunities to ask questions, will be provided before any projects are considered. Consultation with key stakeholders remains a critical component preceding QEC's pursuit of alternative energy projects.
CAPACITY, ENGAGEMENT, AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE
STATUS: IN PROGRESS
Responds to SMR Roadmap recommendation: 10, 43
Consultations are legally required for the corporation’s pursuit of alternative energy projects. QEC will commit to further community engagement on SMRs across Nunavut and will be supported by extensive research documentation on nuclear technology use in the Arctic.
The corporation has built knowledge around the topic of nuclear energy and fostered trust with Nunavummiut through and open and accessible platform.