Indigenous communities are leading Canada's green energy transition

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Indigenous communities are leading the transition to green energy in Canada

Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan is part of this movement with its Awasis solar park, inaugurated in November 2022. (File photo)

Indigenous communities are leading the green energy transition movement in Canada as they are involved in hundreds of projects.

A 2020 report by the nonprofit Indigenous Clean Energy identified 197 mid- to large-scale renewable energy generation projects that involve Indigenous participation.

CEO Chris Henderson says Indigenous involvement will only grow as Canada seeks clean energy to meet its goals environmental.

According to him, Canada's energy and electricity sectors have always been dominated by large oil and gas companies as well as governments, but new technologies allow for greater diversification and growth. the future of energy is decolonized.

In fact, he calculates that Indigenous communities now own, co-own, or have financial benefit arrangements for nearly 20% of Canada's electricity generation infrastructure.

These are the largest asset owners besides public companies, he says.

Worth $21 million , Cowessess First Nation's Awasis Solar Project is connected to the Saskatchewan power grid and is capable of powering 2,500 homes per year, on average.

Over its estimated 35-year lifespan, this solar park is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 350,000 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of more than 70,000 gasoline-powered cars driven for one year. an.

Other projects include the Meadow Lake Tribal Council Bioenergy Centre, also in Saskatchewan, which will produce green energy from wood waste from sawmills neighbors.

In Nova Scotia, Membertou, Paqtnkek and Potlotek First Nations are partners in what will be the first green hydrogen and ammonia project in North America.

In Ontario, the Oneida Energy Storage Project, developed in partnership with the Six Nations of the Grand River Band and recently approved, will become the largest energy storage project in batteries in Canada.

As part of its commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the Government of Canada has set a goal of creating a carbon neutral electricity grid by 2035.

< p class="e-p">According to experts, such a goal would require tens of billions of dollars of public and private investment, and it seems clear that indigenous communities, as landowners and holders of rights derived from treaties, are poised to reap a substantial share of this economic benefit.

Private companies have partnered with Indigenous communities in energy infrastructure projects for decades. However, early agreements usually involved guaranteeing access to construction jobs or other financial benefits to communities.

Indigenous communities are now claiming the right to be involved as full owners. Cowessess, for example, owns 95% of the Awasis Solar Project with the option of full ownership after five years.

Substantial federal financial support is available for solar projects. Indigenous-led clean energy. Awasis has received $18.5 million from the federal government.

However, Henderson notes that many other clean energy projects are the result of agreements between indigenous communities and private companies and are entirely financed by private capital.

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