Yukon has an islanded electrical grid. We are not connected to other electrical grids and therefore cannot buy and sell electricity to meet our needs. This means we must develop electricity and energy assets to be self-sustaining. This requires a careful balancing act in which we plan for future need without burdening rates payers by building too much capacity. To find a solution that fits, we need to understand what Yukon’s electricity demand might look like in the future.
To meet the requirements of directive criteria #1, the technical team developed scenarios to forecast Yukon’s potential electricity demand 20-50 years from now. Scenarios are tools used to plan for an uncertain future. They allow you to explore how a range of factors will play out and explore how different scenarios (high, low and medium population growth for example) will affect electricity demand in the future.
Technical consultants, Midgard Consulting Inc. used a univariate, or single variable, model to forecast future electrical energy demand. Univariate modeling has the benefit of being easy to understand and to replicate. The alternative method of a multivariate model is more complicated, more prone to errors and leads to a false sense of accuracy. Given the long period of time into the future that is being forecast and the fact that uncertainty grows exponentially with time, the univariate model is the best approach.
Envisioning Yukon 20-50 Years from Today
In order to determine the need for Next Generation Hydro the technical team had to forecast energy and capacity need 20-50 years from today. They did this by creating three scenarios for electricity use using a top down, single variable model. The chart below details the three scenarios that were explored.
|Industrial Demand||– 50 GWh/year
– 1 grid connected mine
– 1.5 grid connected mines
– 2 grid connected mines
Energy and Capacity Demand Forecast
Planning for future electrical needs is no easy task. There are two sides to this coin. Decision makers must ensure the chosen solution can provide enough energy (GWh) to meet the need over the course of the year, in addition they must ensure there is enough capacity (MW) in the system to meet the energy needs on the coldest, darkest winter day when our lights, stoves, TVs and heating systems are on. Finally, in a planning exercise decision makers must be prepared to provide enough electricity in a situation where the largest electrical generator is cut off. All of these factors go into to determining how much more energy and capacity infrastructure we must build for the future.
Each scenario has as an associated energy and capacity gap growing over time from 2035-2065. This gap is calculated by determining the amount of energy and capacity needed and subtracting current infrastructure (not include assets that are retired over time). The results for each scenario are shown in the chart below.
|Low Case Scenario||11 MW||17 MW||24 MW||31 MW|
|54 GWh||85 GWh||118 GWh||154 GWh|
|Baseline Case Scenario||21 MW||31 MW||42 MW||53 MW|
|103 GWh||157 GWh||211 GWh||265 GWh|
|High Case Scenario||36 MW||62 MW||95 MW||136 MW|
|180 GWh||311 GWh||476 GWh||682 GWh|
For comparison, in the Baseline Case Scenario, this means within 20 years we may need a facility that is twice the size of the current Mayo Facility, and in 50 years a facility that is approximately twice the size of Whitehorse.