Research funding supports green power initiatives in Yukon and Northwest Territories

Electric Car

Yukon University has received $500,000 to support the successful inclusion of clean power initiatives into the electrical power systems of both Yukon and Northwest Territories (NWT). The Electric vehicles and smart heating research project will explore the potential effects that electric vehicles and smart heating units may have on the electrical distribution networks in these territories and offer novel solutions to address these challenges. 

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Northern Energy Innovation, Dr. Michael Ross, is the successful recipient of Government of Canada’s Applied Research and Technology Partnership. Yukon University is working in partnership with Government of Yukon, Yukon Energy Corporation, ATCO Electric Yukon, Yukon Conservation Society, and NT Energy to address the increased use of electric vehicles and smart heating required to support territorial greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. The research will identify specific bottlenecks in each territory’s electrical distribution networks that could prevent these clean energy technologies from being successfully adopted and develop solutions to mitigate potential technical barriers. 

This research builds off Yukon University’s existing expertise in modelling northern remote power systems. The research team, consisting of two research analysts and approximately half a dozen student research assistants, will perform high level modelling to develop impact assessments for several electric vehicle and smart heating adoption scenarios. These scenarios and proposed solutions will be presented to the corresponding governments and utility partners for their consideration and planning.  

Research results from this two-year project will guide territorial utilities as they plan infrastructure upgrades and logistics strategies for their distribution networks in the coming years. The first year of this project will focus on the Yukon Integrated System, while the second year of this project will transition resources to NWT’s distribution networks. Upon completion, research results will be made public on the YukonU website.

Fieldwork will begin in Whitehorse followed by visits to grid-connected Yukon communities later this summer. The team will conduct a study of NWT’s distribution network over the summer of 2023. 


“Finding innovative ways to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets is an example of how Yukon University is solving real-world challenges in partnership with government, industry, and communities. Northern Energy Innovation has supported remote communities throughout Canada’s North and will now apply this expertise to two Canadian territories, thanks to funding from Government of Canada. We are committed to working towards the common good and believe that together we will build a more resilient North.” 
- Dr. Lesley Brown, President and Vice-Chancellor, Yukon University 

"Science and innovation lead to a stronger and more resilient economy. As a government we will always be there to support small and medium-sized businesses as they adopt new technologies, and our college sector plays a crucial role in supporting these businesses. Today's announcement will see strong partnerships that will foster innovation and support the next big idea all while providing top notch training to Canada's future generation of skilled workers." 
- The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry 

"This additional support from the Government of Canada is a testament to the value of colleges, CEGEPs and polytechnics and how they contribute to Canadian innovation – from exceptional applied research expertise and training experience, to outstanding facilities and equipment. On behalf of the tri-agencies, congratulations to the successful colleges who will benefit from this special investment that will help their students, local businesses and communities thrive." 
– Alejandro Adem, President, NSERC 

“Yukon University’s clean energy research will provide valuable insights and solutions on how we can ensure our electrical grid meets the increasing demands to power our homes and vehicles while reducing the need for fossil fuels. This important research will help the Yukon increase renewable energy in the territory and reach the goals in Our Clean Future to reduce the Yukon’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030." 
– John Streicker, Government of Yukon Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources 

 “Yukon Energy is committed to providing Yukoners with electricity they can trust will be there when and where they need it. As more Yukoners turn to smart-heating devices and electric vehicles to offset their use of fossil fuels, it’s critical for Yukon Energy to better understand the impact of these new technologies. This study will help identify the upgrades needed to the power system to reliably meet customer needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Yukon. Results from Yukon University’s electric vehicles and smart heating study will have a direct hand in ensuring Yukon’s grid is built to support future generations of population and economic growth in the territory”. 
- Mila Milojevic, Vice President, Resource Planning and Regulatory Affairs, Yukon Energy 

”This project will further Yukon Conservation Society’s (YCS) mandate of promoting and integrating responsible clean energy technology as a means of reducing the territory’s carbon footprint. YCS is pursuing a smart heating technology (electric thermal storage) pilot project in anticipation of mass deployment throughout the territory, and the results of this research will identify optimal paths for responsible deployment.” 
- Scott Pressnail, Energy Analyst, Yukon Conservation Society 

“Access to reliable, affordable and sustainable energy underpins the vitality of our communities. Making this transition smoothly requires long-term thinking and collaboration among members of industry, regulators, policymakers and customers. Striking the right balance between community needs, environmental stewardship, system reliability and price stability is essential. The results of this study will help to ensure our investments in clean technology are future proof and cost effective so that we can balance the energy transition while ensuring the safe and reliable delivery of power to our customers across the North.”  
-Jay Massie, VP Northern Development & Indigenous Relations 

“Analysis of NWT’s distribution infrastructure will allow our team to consider innovative strategies that may provide energy alternatives for Northwest Territories Power Corporation, in addition to generating exciting opportunities for NT Energy”. 
- Bruno Pereira, Director, NT Energy 


About YukonU  

Northern Energy Innovation (NEI) is an applied research program dedicated to making electrical power systems in northern communities more reliable, sustainable and better able to incorporate renewable energy. NEI has been operating for six years as an NSERC Industrial Research Chair program and is supported by the following industrial partners: Yukon Energy, ATCO Electric Yukon, and Northwest Territories Power Corporation. It is one of seven research programs at the YukonU Research Centre

Yukon University is a flexible post-secondary institution that includes a place and pathway for every learner. Our students are grounded in education and research relevant to the North. Our resourceful and creative graduates are building a resilient, versatile and ambitious future for all northerners.  

With over 40 degree, diploma, certificate and trades programs, local learners can access opportunities without needing to leave home—those from across Canada and internationally are invited to deepen their understanding of our rapidly changing circumpolar world.   

Our 13 campuses are located on the Traditional Territories of the 14 Yukon First Nations. We respect and honour Yukon First Nations knowledge, worldviews and educational priorities in every aspect of YukonU. 


About Applied Research and Technology Partnership grants 

The Applied Research and Technology Partnership grants are made available through the Tri 
agency College and Community Innovation (CCI) program, managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

Through these partnerships, colleges will help SMEs address real-world challenges in priority areas from machine learning and manufacturing technologies, to the environment and agriculture, by applying the latest applied research, knowledge and technologies and creating useful new products and services. 

These grants will also provide valuable training experience for the next generation of skilled workers who will be essential to the success and competitiveness of these SMEs. 

For more information, please contact

Dr. Michael Ross

Industrial Research Chair in Northern Energy Innovation

Northern Energy Innovation
YukonU Research Centre

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 

Brigitte Parker 
Government of Yukon, Energy, Mines and Resources 
867 667 3183 

Stephanie Cunha 
Director, Corporate and Business Development, Yukon Energy 
867 334 7760 

Scott Pressnail 
Energy Analyst, Yukon Conservation Society 
867 668 5678 

Erin MacDonald 
Senior Advisor, Marketing & Communications , ATCO Electricity 
867 687 3517  

Doug Prendergast 
Northwest Territories Power Corporation