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Sustainable Development Strategy 2007- 2009
Goal 1: To enable Canada’s natural resource sectors to contribute to a competitive economy and advance positive social and environmental outcomes.
Natural resources are a cornerstone of the Canadian economy, sustaining urban and rural communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast by providing high paying skilled jobs and vital ecological services such as clean air and clean water. Natural resources are also essential to our cultural identity and heritage. Sustainable development in Canada’s natural resource sectors is about possibilities—derived from our wealth of resources—while continually innovating to find new and better ways to use and develop them, in a manner that respects a diverse range of values and allows for participation from all segments of society.
NRCan is responsible for federal policies and science and technology that support the sustainable development and competitiveness of Canada’s natural resource sectors. This goal is about advancing a diverse range of actions to this effect: to better position Canadian communities to advance sustainable development; to address threats to natural resources; to reduce the environmental impacts of emissions and waste; to work to find longer-term technologies that will protect our environment for future generations; and to ensure regulatory regimes are effective and efficient.
Community involvement is essential to sustainable development. In order to facilitate continued economic prosperity and social sustainability of all Canadian communities, NRCan will continue working at the community level to build capacity to contribute to sustainable development by developing a Forest Community Program and by working with Aboriginal communities.
Science and technology are critical components in any competitive economy. Improved technologies and scientific understanding of natural resources can help advance positive social and environmental outcomes. NRCan will continue research and action to better understand our natural resources and respond to natural hazards—including assessing aquifers, understanding risks and impacts of a changing climate, and addressing threats posed by forest pests and wildland fire.
By developing tools to increase resource efficiency and supporting the development and adoption of clean technologies, NRCan will help to position Canada’s natural resource sectors to become more competitive while advancing positive environmental outcomes. A key commitment in this area is the doubling of renewable energy technology systems’ (RETS) electrical capacity in Canada. A second commitment is to work to understand the potential for gas hydrates, a major yet unproven resource of natural gas, worldwide. Canada has been a leader in documenting gas hydrates and led an international project to test gas production in the Mackenzie Delta in 2002. Realizing commercial production of relatively clean natural gas as a contribution to the Canadian energy supply mix will require development of new and untested technologies.
Enabling the contributions of Canada’s natural resource sectors to a competitive economy, and advancement of positive social and environmental outcomes includes a host of activities throughout the Department, related to all of Canada’s natural resource sectors, and addressed to diverse audiences including communities, governments, and the private sector.
SD Success Story: Benefits of Geoscience to Canadians
Geological and topographic surveys provide information which helps to reduce exploration risk by identifying areas with the greatest resource potential. The delivery of geoscience products attracts new companies to stake claims for resource development which in turn leads to the discovery and development of oil and gas and mineral resources, resulting in economic growth. Geoscience knowledge also applies to the planning and responsible environmental management of the operation and eventual decommissioning of any mineral or energy-related development that may result from exploration activity.
One example is the recent geoscience of Committee Bay region of central Nunavut. With funding from the Targeted Geoscience Initiative (Phase I, 2000-2003), the Geological Survey of Canada in partnership with the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office, carried out an integrated mapping project in a large, poorly-known area several hundred kilometres north-west of Baker Lake. This area was essentially undeveloped from an exploration point of view, with only 11 claims in good standing prior to the initiation of the mapping project. The new geoscience results indicated an elevated potential for nickel, copper and gold mineralization; the public release of the initial results in March 2002 led to an immediate 10 fold increase in claim staking and, in 2003, the announcement by a junior company of a gold discovery. The government investment of $3.7 million in the project had resulted in about $30 million in private sector exploration to the end of 2004.
The geoscience work and subsequent industry development has led to numerous benefits to the community through increased purchases from local businesses (supplies, logistical support), and training and employment opportunities for local residents. Preliminary studies show that approximately 20 percent of early-stage exploration expenditures remain within the community.
SD Success Story: Renewable energy for remote or isolated communities
Hybrid systems combine two sources of power generation. For example, such systems can combine the advantages of local renewable energy sources along with conventional fossil fuel-based systems. These systems provide flexibility, efficiency, and reliability while promoting the use of our renewable energy resources.
NRCan has supported wind-diesel development for more than 20 years. Thanks to these early R&D efforts a number of wind energy technologies have been developed or adapted to Canada’s harsh climate. However, wind systems have only recently been integrated into a limited number of isolated diesel powered grids, due in part to concerns by electric utilities about the reliability and performance of such systems.
In 2004, Canada’s first wind-diesel demonstration project was completed in the isolated community of Ramea, Newfoundland. The project was led by Frontier Power Systems Inc. with funding from the Technology and Early Action Measures program and support from NRCan. Located just off the south coast of Newfoundland, Ramea Island is a small fishing village with a local population of 700. Before the construction of the wind farm, the community was powered by three 925 kW diesel generator operated by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Six 65 kW wind turbines were added to make up the wind-diesel hybrid system. The project demonstrates the use of a controller, developed by NRCan and the Wind Energy Institute of Canada, to reliably integrate wind energy into the diesel plant. The wind system produces approximately 1,000 MWh/annually while avoiding 700 tonnes/yr of CO2 emissions from diesel fuel reductions.
In addition to the energy efficiencies and environmental benefits, there has been very positive reaction by several Canadian utilities. The successful demonstration of the reliability of this hybrid system in remote or isolated locations has strengthened the credibility of wind power as a sustainable option for northern, remote, or isolated communities in Canada.