However, changing weather patterns are beginning to affect the potential for hydroelectric power generation along the waterway that flows from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of St Lawrence. During the past few winters, reduced ice cover over the Great Lakes has increased winter evaporation as dry Arctic winds carry moisture from these lakes to other locations. The result is that lower water levels have been measured across the Great Lakes and along the St Lawrence River where new islands have appeared.
There is potential to install of flow restriction technology such as ballast-operated doors that rise from the lake or river floor, to periodically reduce the cross-sectional area of the channel at several points along the waterway. These points would include the Strait of Mackinac, the Detroit River and several points along the Lower St Lawrence River to the east of Montreal. While less water in the system would reduce.
Power generation, the flow controls could allow for various forms of pumped hydraulic storage to operate at several locations along the great waterway.
Changing weather patterns have reduced the winter ice cover over Southern Hudson Bay, James Bay and even the southernmost parts of the Beaufort Sea. Dry winter Arctic winds that blow over these bodies of water collect massive amounts of evaporation. The result is increased precipitation across Northern Canada and over the watershed areas of major rivers in Manitoba, Quebec and Labrador along which several hydroelectric installations generate electric power. Changing weather patterns have the potential to increase hydroelectric power generation capacity in these regions.
Increased precipitation over Northern Ontario assures reliable output from the last large hydroelectric power dam being built in Ontario, on the Albany River that flows into James Bay. Its output plus that of numerous low-head installations that may be possible on other north-flowing rivers across Northern Ontario will most likely be used internally in Ontario, as would any future winter wind power from that region that may be placed into seasonal storage at Niagara. Ontario presently imports some 1200MW of hydroelectric power from Hydro Quebec's James Bay installations.
Changing weather patterns along the Pacific coast have affected hydroelectric power generation capacity in British Columbia, with BC Hydro having to periodically reduce hydroelectric generating capacity during prolonged dry summers. The region does have potential to generate electric power from powerful oceanic tidal currents that flow through ocean channels along its coast, plus power from ocean waves. BC Hydro does have potential to generate winter electric power for export into American markets, with periodic excess summer time generation capacity.
HVDC Submarine Cable Transmission:
Plans are underway to install HVDC submarine power cable technology to carry hydroelectric power from Montreal to New York City. The cable will be installed under the riverbed of the Richelieu River, the bed of Lake Champlain and the bed of the Hudson River. In the event that pumped hydraulic storage goes ahead at Niagara, submarine cable technology installed to the south of the navigation along the Upper St Lawrence River may carry off-peak power from Montreal to Buffalo, NY.
Manitoba Hydro generates hydroelectric power at several locations along the Nelson River and has undeveloped hydroelectric generation capability along the Churchill River. HVDC technology carries electric power to southern locations. There is potential to install HVDC submarine cable technology under the beds of the Nelson River, Red River, Saskatchewan River and several rivers that originate in Western Canada. The cables installed under the Red River would carry power into the northern USA to a short buried land cable connection that would connect to a cable installed under the bed of the Mississippi River.
A Canadian initiative to develop an east-west grid connection could carry electric power to the Western USA. The headwaters of the Saskatchewan River flow through Edmonton and across into the Nelson River in Manitoba. The river flows from the Rocky Mountains and begins in close proximity to the headwaters of the Thompson River that flows through Vancouver as well as the Columbia River that flows into the NW USA. There is a proposal to install an undersea submarine cable to carry electric power along the Pacific coast from Vancouver, British Columbia to California. The cable could extend northward to Alaska to access coastal wind power and various forms of oceanic power that occur along the Southern Alaskan coast.
A submarine cable installed under Southern Hudson Bay may link Hydro Quebec's hydroelectric generating installations at James Bay to the hydroelectric installations of Manitoba Hydro. That cable could connect into submarine cables that carry electric power into the north-central USA and to Western Canada. Over the long-term future, Manitoba Hydro and Hydro Quebec may be able to co-ordinate their generating capacity to supply power to growing power markets located in the north central and eastern USA during future times of peak summer demand.
The increased hydroelectric output from Canada's other Churchill River in Labrador may be allocated to the eastern USA, with the potential of overland power transmission to other locations. There is a proposal to install submarine cable technology under the Strait of Belle Isle and Cabot Strait to carry electric power from Labrador to Newfoundland and to Nova Scotia, from where land based power transmission via New Brunswick would carry the power to northeastern American markets. That technology could involve HVDC cable buried next to a main railroad line that crosses the NE USA.
Northern Winter Winds:
Powerful winter winds blow across Northern Canada and over the massive expanse of Hudson Bay and James Bay, including along the coasts of Northeastern Manitoba and Northwestern Quebec as well as over 1600-islands located in eastern Hudson Bay that are under the jurisdiction of Nunavut. Ongoing developments in the area of high-altitude and airborne wind power conversion that could generate electric power in these regions using structurally reinforced kites that activate ground-level electrical generators. Winds blow more constantly at higher velocity at the higher elevations than near ground level. Hydro Quebec has the option of installing pumped hydraulic storage technology at their James Bay power dams to absorb any power surges produced by the wind technology.
There is scope to connect wind conversion technology that may eventually be installed on many of the islands of Nunavut via submarine cable to Hydro Quebec at their James Bay installations. There would be scope to transmit some of that power into Western Canada and the North-Central USA via submarine cable. There would also be the option to install such a cable along the Upper St Lawrence River, to the south of the ship navigation channel and across southern Lake Ontario toward Niagara. The other power transmission option would be buried cable technology placed next to the railway line that connects between Montreal and Buffalo via Massena, NY.
Wind technology may be installed in Northeastern Manitoba near the mouths of the Churchill and Nelson Rivers. There are several options in using HVDC power transmission technology to link future wind energy installations in Northeastern Manitoba to the hydroelectric installations along those rivers. Manitoba Hydro has the option of developing pumped hydraulic capacity in that region to absorb power surges produced by wind generation technology. Electrical energy generated from winter winds may be transferred into seasonal storage at several locations across Western Canada and the USA.
The region of Northwestern Canada located to the north of the 60th parallel offers great potential for wind energy conversion, along the southern shores of Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake. There is potential to install a submarine cable between the 2-lakes and extend that cable southward into Alberta under the bed of the Slave River and Athabasca River. The presence of oil and natural gas wells in Alberta indicates the presence of salt caverns that may be flushed for compressed air energy storage (CAES) that could absorb the power surges from northern wind power installations. Much of the northern wind power may be transferred into the power grid.
Hydro Quebec has some capacity for pumped hydraulic storage between Le Grande reservoirs #2 and #3 while Manitoba Hydro could develop a small amount of pumped hydraulic storage capacity. Salt caverns do occur in the oil and natural gas regions of Southwestern Manitoba, Southern Saskatchewan and South-Central Alberta and are used to store compressed natural gas at 1500-psia to over 2000-psia. A few of these caverns could be used to store compressed air for grid-scale seasonal energy storage. During summer, the compressed air would be superheated prior to it being expanded in power turbines to generate electric power.
Most of the future winter wind-electric power from the west coast of Quebec may be carried via buried cable placed next to roads and railway lines to Montreal, from where the combination of submarine cables and buried cable next to a railway line may carry the power into the USA. There is the future option of developing pumped hydraulic storage between Lakes Ontario and Erie plus the option of developing grid-scale seasonal compressed air energy storage (CAES) in the south-central USA. It is also possible that Newfoundland may have potential for CAES.
Atlantic Canadian Power:
Newfoundland may have as yet undiscovered potential to store large amounts of electrical energy, using CAES technology. Given the precedent of some 500-known salt domes in the oil and natural gas producing regions around the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, there is a high probability of salt domes occurring in the bedrock under Newfoundland's eastern coast where oil and natural gas deposits have been discovered. The possible presence of one or more large salt domes at coastal locations provides the opportunity for grid-scale seasonal energy storage using CAES technology combined with locally available natural gas.
Further seismic testing along Newfoundland's eastern coast could pinpoint the location and approximate size of any salt domes. If the testing reveals nothing, electric power would likely flow from Labrador via Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to American markets in the future. The presence of large salt domes would open the door to further opportunity to develop renewable energy resources across Atlantic Canada and include New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The region is buffeted by power winds, has powerful oceanic tidal currents and is known for the size and power of the ocean waves.
Powerful winds blow across vast expanses of ocean water into the multitude of oceanic inlets across Atlantic Canada. It would be possible use the walls of the inlets to stabilize towers to increase the elevation of turbine hubs and also to install various designs of cable suspended wind power technology over the inlets. There are also ongoing advances occurring in the field of airborne wind energy conversion that may generate electric power in the region in the future and transfer off-peak energy into storage.
Cables along Railway lines:
Many of the salt domes of Texas may be converted to grid-scale, seasonal CAES that may serve a large proportion of America's summer time demand for electric power. Rail lines extend from San Antonio and Houston through Dallas and on to St Louis, from where one line continues north to Chicago and into Winnipeg and another line east to Pittsburgh with connection to Buffalo, NY to Montreal. There is potential to install a new design of HVDC buried cable along select railway lines to carry electric power during winter from Northern Canada into storage in the Southern USA.
Changing weather patterns have the potential to allow certain Canadian power utilities to increase hydroelectric power generation, perhaps to more that compensate for the projected reduction in hydroelectric generating capacity along the waterway that flows from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of St Lawrence. The excess generating capacity may be sold into several American markets using a possible combination of submarine cable technology and buried cable technology along railway lines. A portion of that power may be placed into short-term and long-term energy storage systems. Over the long-term future, renewable and cost-competitive electric power from Canada may serve a greater proportion of the American electrical market.