Northern Affairs blew $1.4 million on Arctic solar panels

Solar energy to power Canada's north might not be the best idea.

Northern Affairs blew $1.4 million on Arctic solar panels
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The climate change funding doled out between 2019 and 2021 was meant to get northern communities off of diesel energy. The catch here is that 100 per cent of energy in Nunavut, population 39,000, is diesel-sourced.

Numbers obtained by Blacklock's Reporter demonstrate how Northern Affairs bureaucrats knew the projects would be largely useless and ineffective based on the number of usable daylight hours in Canada's north. However, the hope from Serge Beaudoin, assistant deputy minister, was that the funding would foster good feelings toward the government:

Our approach to the funding is to build up those relationships,” said Beaudoin. Taxpayers’ subsidies were intended to “grow the projects towards shovel-ready and help them to be launched.

Nunavut's most northern community, Grise Fiord, has 24 hours of daylight in June and 24 hours of darkness in December. Southern Nunavut communities have more hours of light in the winter and more hours of dark in summer.

For example, on December 21, the shortest day of the year, residents in the capital of Iqaluit will watch the sunrise around 9:30 a.m. and set around 1 p.m.

A break down of solar panel spending, as reported by Blacklock's, includes:

  • $49,875 in Carcross, Yukon;
  • $90,321 in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories;
  • $127,000 in Nain, Postville, Rigolet and Hopedale, Labrador;
  • $172,930 in Baker Lake, Nunavut;
  • $475,000 in Tuktoyaktuk;
  • $521,600 in Rankin Inlet.

The solar panels were exclusive of a number of other net-zero and climate change projects also funded in the north by the feds. In Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, $700,000 was spent on an office of renewable energy. Old Crow, Yukon spent $361,814 to find out which way the wind blows.

Neither the number of useable daylight hours, nor the unforgiving weather have deterred the federal government from spending taxpayer money on high hopes for a solar-powered north.

In 2020, the Canadian Space Agency blew half a million dollars to teach Nunavut residents in Gjoa Haven, 250km from the Arctic Circle, to grow carrots in a greenhouse. Details of the $450,000 carrot crop yield are not known.

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