Parliamentary secretary to the federal natural resources (NRC) minister, Paul Lefebvre announced Monday the federal government would sink C$3.9 million into Raglan 2.0 to expand Nunavik's first hybrid renewable energy system.
In partnership with Glencore, the Raglan nickel mine in northern Quebec in 2014 saw the first hybrid generation system power on, at a cost of $22 million at a site accessible only by boat or plane.
Lefebvre said on the fringe of the Association for Mineral Exploration's Roundup event in Vancouver the renewable energy production and storage centre would continue to provide in the power needs of 16 regional mining operations and Inuit communities in the Arctic region, as well as other mining operations abroad.
The project builds on steps taken toward achieving a 60-90% diesel displacement at the mine. Raglan 2.0 will integrate the current heat recovery system to larger-scale variable renewable energy, larger-scale energy storage, together with a revamped spinning-reserve strategy of more than 11 diesel engines. The operation will maintain the larger-scale smart-grid stability and volt ampere reactive management under highly cyclical industrial loads.
Lefebvre said such coordination among thermal, storage, fluctuating wind and diesel generation had never been done at this scale in Canada.
NRC also announced a $238,000 investment that would fund a study of compressed air energy storage in Nunavut mine sites.
Lefebvre said this project would develop a front-end engineering and design study on an innovative type of energy storage that could be specifically applied to remote mining operations and micro grids in a northern environment.
The project targets high-penetration wind energy to displace diesel in northern smart grids, using old mine galleries to store compressed air until it is needed to drive compressors in reverse, which are in turn coupled to power generators.
He said this was a lower-cost energy storage option that would be an important step towards rolling out more renewable energy in Nunavut and towards transport electrification and other energy innovations at mining sites, in one of the most hostile environments in Canada.
"Reducing reliance on diesel fuel in Canada's rural and remote communities offers environmental benefits and economic opportunities. It is an important priority shared by federal, provincial and territorial governments," Lefebvre said.
Both projects are being funded through NRC's energy innovation programme.