Optimizing an off-grid electrical system in Brochet, Manitoba, Canada

Map of Brochet in Northern Manitoba, Canada.

In September 2011, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative to make sustainable energy for all a reality by 2030. Sustainable energy is achieved when energy is readily and sustainably available at reasonable cost and can be utilized efficiently and effectively for all required tasks without causing negative societal impacts in the long run. In the context of Canada, approximately 300 off-grid communities, including four communities (Brochet, Lac Brochet, Shamattawa, and Tadoule Lake) located in the northern Manitoba, are far away from achieving a sustainable energy system.

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The feasibility of renewable energies at an off-grid community in Canada

Ariel view of facility showing the field station surrounded by woods and lakes.

With increasing concerns about climate change, peak oil and rising energy costs, oil dependent communities, particularly off-grid communities, should explore renewable energies. The historic price trend of diesel and gasoline shows that continuous demand, heavy resource extraction and political instability together push the oil prices ever higher. Power generation is one of the largest contributors to GHG emissions that fuels global climate change. Small-scale diesel generators (50–100kW) are only 25–35% efficient. Since costs for fuel in the remote off-grid communities, with diesel generation and freight costs, are three times more expensive than fuel prices elsewhere in Canada, due to transportation costs, renewable energy technologies (RETs) may make more economic sense in remote off-grid communities. Presently, small-scale diesel generators provide power to over 300 off-grid communities in Canada with a combined population of over 200000 people. This study looks at the feasibility of sustainable, reliable energy supply in off-grid communities by conducting a life-cycle analysis of different energy systems in Northern Ontario’s Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).

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Strategic analysis of energy efficiency projects: Case study of a steel mill in Manitoba

Simplified production process in Gerdau Manitoba Mill.

Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption and industrial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the short- to mid-term. Energy efficiency is also considered necessary to reduce GHG by 60–80%, which is required to stabilize climate change. This focus on energy efficiency is not only good for the environment but also profitable for industries, as it increases competitiveness and productivity.

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Energy efficiency assessment by process heating assessment and survey tool (PHAST) and feasibility analysis of waste heat recovery in the reheat furnace at a steel company

Production process of an electric arc furnace (EAF) steel making operation, adapted from Gerdau Ameristeel

Improving energy efficiency of all industries, including the steel industry, will reduce greenhouse gases [GHG]. Energy efficiency is considered the most cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption and increase production. Edenhofer and Stern recommend energy efficiency as the number one priority for the most developed countries (e.g., Global 20 top national economies) which would create a green global recovery. Current energy efficiency achievements are insufficient to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of GHG that will prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The International Energy Agency reports that industry is half as energy efficient as it could be: “The energy intensity of most industrial processes is at least 50% higher than the theoretical minimum determined by the laws of thermodynamics”. Industries are often not willing to implement energy efficiency due to: limited access to capital, its disruption of production, inappropriate technologies interfere with production and lack of capacity in efficiency assessment.

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