Renewable Energy in Remote and Indigenous Communities

We're bringing together government, academic, industry, Indigenous and community stakeholders to develop best practices for transitioning to renewable energy in remote locations.

Investment in the renewable energy sector provides an enormous opportunity to address local energy needs, increase quality of life and overall human security and meet regional, national and international emissions targets.

The University of Saskatchewan is convening academic, industry, Indigenous, government and NGO partners together to make the transition to renewable energy in northern, remote, rural and Indigenous communities an accessible and achievable reality. 

Our work will help communities negotiate, install, operate and maintain new energy systems. It will also help northern, Indigenous and remote communities enjoy the benefits of stable power sources. 

Biomass in Tok, Alaska. Image courtesy of Alaska Center for Energy and Power.

Renewable energy = Economic stability

Increasing renewable energy capacity creates long term, sustainable and predictable economic benefits. 

Today – unlike anytime in recent history – Indigenous communities in the north have opportunities to implement wise approaches to their community and economic futures. There are many opportunities for the deployment of renewable energy, but first we must address the gaps and ensure there is good policy, community engagement, and technology for success. Renewable power sources include wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and biomass. 

Energy security increases quality of life:

  • Communities on a microgrid still have access to power that heats homes during the winter when sub-zero temperatures often cause larger scale power outages to main grids.
  • In Northern Saskatchewan, a family with an annual income of less than $20,000 may pay a power bill of up to $1,000 per month.  The deployment of local renewables will cut those costs dramatically, so that the choice is not between food and heating.
  • Where an adequate biomass resource is present, the creation of a small-scale combined heat and power plant in a community creates jobs, and a steady and predicatable power supply. 
  • In Tok, Alaska (population 1,300), a biomass boiler was installed in the school in 2010. It now saves $455,000 CAD annually in avoided fuel oil costs, and has enabled recovery of the school music program and installation of a greenhouse. 

Why communities in the north need renewable energy sources

This map tells the story of the nearly two million people that live each day and night in one of the most extreme climates in the world and who are disconnected from a source of reliable and consistent electric power. It was produced by the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Alaska Fairbanks in consultation with researchers from throughout the circumpolar north, including the United States, Canada, Russia and Norway. It is about 90 - 95 per cent complete and collection of data-points for settlements and communities is ongoing. 

Get involved

We are holding several events throughout September 2017. View our events page for more details.

Initiative supporters

SaskPower SSHRC US Consulate