Nunavut’s energy system is unique in Canada as it is the only province or territory that has no primary energy production. That is to say that Nunavut relies exclusively on imported fossil fuels for its energy needs. In 2012-2013 the territory imported 180 million liters of fuel. This includes 44 million liters of diesel used for electricity generation, 64 million liters of motive fuel for transportation, and 63 million liters of heating fuel.
All of Nunavut’s fuel is purchased and shipped in bulk during the short summer season and stored in tank facilities in each community. The Department of Community and Government Services, through their Petroleum Products Division (PPD), is responsible for supplying, delivering, and distributing all fuel products.In Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay, distribution responsibilities are outsourced to private corporations, while in all other communities PPD uses local contractors.
Electricity in Nunavut is produced exclusively through diesel combustion. The Qulliq Energy Corporation (QEC) is responsible for the generation of electricity in the territory, maintaining 26 stand-alone diesel plants in 25 communities (two plants in Iqaluit). Each community in Nunavut has its own independent electricity generation and distribution system. There is no back-up grid.
In addition to QEC’s 26 diesel generators, there is a small amount of renewable energy generation in Nunavut.This includes a 3 kW solar photovoltaic system on the Arctic College in Iqaluit, a soon to be installed 10 kW solar photovoltaic system on the Arviat recreation center, and a soon to be installed4 kW solar photovoltaic system on the community freezer in Kugaaruk. Other potential renewable energy sources include a wind turbine in Cape Dorset, and a hydroelectric project outside of Iqaluit.
Despite the current shortage of domestic energy production, the future holds considerable potential for both conventional and renewable energy resources in Nunavut. Discovered oil and gas reservoirs, for instance, are estimated to total nearly 2 billion barrels of crude oil and 27 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Alternatively, Nunavut holds considerable solar photovoltaic potential. The hamlet of Chesterfield Inlet, for example, has a yearly PV potential of 1158 kWh/kW, which is greater than such southern municipalities as Victoria, British Columbia, and St. John’s, Newfoundland.