Solar energy emanates from the sun and approaches the Earth as short-wave electromagnetic radiation (also known as solar radiation). Light is the spectrum of this radiation that is visible to the human eye, but the Sun also emits radiation outside of our visible range, like ultra violet, infra-red, gamma rays and microwaves. Renewable solar energy systems take the solar energy and turn it into electricity in two ways. Solar Photo Voltaic (PV) panels transform solar energy into electricity through the photo-electric effect. Solar thermal panels use solar energy for heating purposes as it is absorbed by surfaces and materials.
Solar energy potential in the territory is a peculiar case, as the amount of solar energy along the Hudson Bay coast is comparable to the amount of solar energy that reaches southern Quebec, much of Ontario, and the Maritimes, while solar energy reaching the northern half of Nunavut is lower than any other part of Canada. The difficulties lie in the fact that the solar energy in concentrated into the summer months and is lacking in the winter months. That being said, there is still potential for solar energy projects, especially in the southern areas of Nunavut.
The use of renewable solar systems provides energy savings and reduces greenhouse gases in the territory. However, the installation costs of solar panel projects are high due to the cost of transporting equipment. QEC completed a Solar PV (Photovoltaic) panel demonstration project at the Iqaluit power plant in 2016 with promising results.
Moving forward, QEC will be installing a 500 KW solar panel with storage capacity as part of the new Kugluktuk power plant construction project and the corporation will continue to pursue funding from federal programs to invest further in wind and solar technology.
Ongoing technological improvements will continue to increase this technology’s viability, reliability, and affordability.