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Hydropower in Greenland
Long-term commitment to hydropower expansion
“The case of Greenland shows that ambitious energy policy supported by continuous investment can be truly transformational.” The Hon. Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Minister for Finance, Mineral Resources and Foreign Affairs, Greenland during “Innovative Island Solutions: From the poles to the tropics” coordinated by GLISPA and OCTA during the UNFCCC COP21 on 8 December 2015
Bright Spot Description:
Hydropower makes up more than half of Greenland’s domestic energy production. About 70% of electricity sold by Nukissiorfiit, the national energy company, comes from hydropower. This is no coincidence. Greenland has been investing 1% of its GDP in hydropower every year since 1990. Greenland continues to invest in hydropower with five power plants currently in operation, ranging from 1.2MW to 45MW, the most recent one starting operations in 2013. This investment helps Greenland to overcome challenges it faces to its energy demand such as: reliance on fuel imports, a small domestic economy, and high heating requirements. Moreover, the remoteness of settlements makes a comprehensive grid impossible – a very common situation on islands. The case of Greenland shows that ambitious energy policy supported by continuous investment can be truly transformational.
What Makes it Bright?
The percentage of hydropower in the electricity mix is already higher than most countries. But the government of Greenland continues to invest in hydropower and small-scale wind, solar, and geothermal.
Economic Opportunity: Hydropower plants create jobs, reduce dependency on imports, and promotes lower and stable electricity prices. The surplus electricity from these hydropower plants make some areas of Greenland attractive for energy intensive industries like aluminum smelting.
Innovative systems: Since 1993, Greenland’s homes use “interruptible electric heating” – the default heating source is surplus electricity from hydropower, and an oil boiler automatically takes over in case electricity is needed for non-heating uses. This guarantees that the available hydropower is used to its fullest at all times.
Vision: Greenland’s ambition goes beyond household electricity. The government has taken steps to increase the number of electric vehicles supplied by hydropower in cities.