Hydropower

Greenland has ample water resources and has made use of these through significant investments in hydropower. Annual investments have during the past many years led to a production of more than 60% renewable energy of the national energy supply to public electricity and heat supply. In addition to being a CO2-neutral source of energy, investments in hydropower contribute to enhancing self-sufficiency and reducing dependency on imported oil to the benefit of climate, the trade balance and price stability. According to Statistics Greenland the extent of self-sufficiency in 2015 was 18.3 %.
 
Greenland has five hydroelectric power plants, the most recent in Ilulissat was first used in 2013. This implies that Greenland’s six towns (Nuuk, Sisimiut, ilulissat, Tasiilaq, Narsaq and Qaqortoq) are now supplied by hydropower. In the table below, you can get an overview of the different hydropower plants, their area of supply, year of start-up and total capacity:

Name Area of Supply In operation since Capacity in Megawatt
Buksefjorden Nuuk 1993 45 MW
Tasilaq Tasiilaq 2004 1,2 MW
Qorlortorsuaq Narsaq og Qaqortoq 2008 7,6 MW
Sisimiut Sisimiut 2010 15 MW
Pakitsoq Ilulissat 2013 22,5 MW

A number of the plants have sufficient electricity available for district heating. In this way, an increasing part of the heating production is now generated without increased emissions of greenhouse gasses.

Feasibility Studies
A considerable amount of groundwork and comprehensive investigations are required to find out, where to locate a new hydropower plant. Patterns of precipitation, topography and geology are surveyed, while trying to gain an understanding of the present state of water resources as well as of how they can be expected to develop in the future. Significant investments are required and it is important that both socioeconomic and environmental sustainability have been taken into account

Every year, funds are put aside on the national budget to carry out such feasibility studies of hydropower potentials. The studies are administered by Analysis, Economy- and Energy Department in the Ministry of Industry, Labour, Trade and Energy and are carried out by Asiaq the Greenland Survey in close dialogue with Nukissiorfiit the National Energy Supply Company..

Feasibility studies are focused on urban areas, where it is possible to supply a larger number of residents without significant energy losses. Transporting electricity across longer distances is associated with great losses and hence constitutes a barrier to the establishment of hydropower plants in more scarcely populated areas. This is part of the explanation as to why many smaller towns and settlements are still dependent on an energy supply based on fossil fuels. Supplying settlements with micro hydropower plants are considered in places that has the ratio for such a solution.

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