6.2 Trends in electrical generation

Last Updated: 
October 29, 2015


This indicator tracks the sources of electrical energy in the Northwest Territories (NWT). 

NWT electrical energy supply comes from three sources: diesel, natural gas and hydro. However, small scale wind and solar energy projects are on the rise across the NWT1.

Data for this indicator is obtained from the NWT Bureau of Statistics, the departments of Industry, Tourism and Investment and Infrastructure, GNWT. Interpretation is obtained from the NWT Energy Report1 and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT.

NWT focus

Electrical energy generation is a major component of total energy use in the NWT. In 2009, about 36% of fossil fuels used in the NWT was for electricity generation1. After transportation, this is one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emission in the NWT1.

Snare Hydro System, NWT
Snare Hydro System, NWT

Current view: status and trend

The demand for electricity in the NWT is on the rise, driven mainly by increased industrial development. Most industrial sites are in off-grid locations and the increased demand is being met primarily by electricity generated from diesel fuel. In 2010, diesel generated electricity constituted 50% of total electricity generated in the NWT followed by 32% hydro and 18% from natural gas. In the same year, 85% of the diesel generated electricity was for remote mines or other industries (Industrial Generation) with only 15% for communities (Utility Generation)1.

The graphic below shows the makeup of electricity generation in the NWT obtained from the GNWT's Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment8

Total electricity generation, NWT, 2001-2009
Source: Ministerial Energy Coordinating Committee. 2008. Energy priorities framework. GNWT.

Looking forward

Increased demand for electricity has come primarily from mineral development projects. While some mines have looked at renewable sources of electricity, most of the electricity needed for large projects continues to be generated from diesel combustion so the trend of growing diesel generated electricity in the NWT electricity mix is expected to continue.

Plans to offset the growth of diesel generation are underway by investigating the potential for development of more hydro development and medium penetration solar or wind-diesel systems for communities across the NWT2,3. These initiatives could also contribute to a decrease in the use of diesel for electricity generation.

Technical notes

Medium penetration wind-diesel system is the combination of wind turbines with diesel generators to obtain maximum contribution from the intermittent wind resource while providing continuous electric power. Medium wind systems only compensate for half of the required diesel to operate the system at full capacity. 

For more information

Other focal points

Contact us

Found an error or have a question? Contact the team at NWTSOER@gov.nt.ca.


Ref. 1 - GNWT and partners. 2011. Northwest Territories Energy Report. GNWT.

Ref. 2 - Ministerial Energy Coordinating Committee. 2008. Energy priorities framework. GNWT.

Ref. 3 - GNWT and partners. 2013. Northwest Territories Energy Action Plan. GNWT.