Hydropower

Meltwater lake on the Greenland ice sheet. Photo: Andreas P. Ahlstrøm, GEUS.

The glaciologists at GEUS are specialists in pre-feasibility studies for hydropower in Greenland and cooperate with project partners at Asiaq, Greenland Survey, to create solutions in this field. GEUS has over 40 years of experience in working with the water resources in Greenland, operating from a strong position in research and monitoring to deliver consultancy based on the most recent science and data.

Hydropower is a key component in the transition of Greenland’s energy supply towards renewable energy sources. A continued expansion of the hydropower capacity in Greenland will be essential in order to combine economic growth in the Greenlandic society with a sustainable development.

The hydropower potential in Greenland is dependent on the amount of meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet and the amount of precipitation. This means that the ongoing changes in the global climate has an immediate financial impact and thus exerts a considerable influence on which energy supply strategy to pursue in the future.

Global climate change happens at an accelerated pace in the Arctic, where temperature is rising at almost twice the global mean and atmospheric circulation patterns seem to be changing as well. While there is a worldwide emphasis on the contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to global sea level rise, climate change also has a local impact on the Greenland society.

 

PRE-FEASIBILITY STUDIES FOR HYDROPOWER

The changing climate means that the hydropower potential of Greenland is constantly evolving, especially for partially ice-covered catchments where important questions to pose are:

  • Will the ice-hydrological catchment change over time?
  • How will climate change affect the hydropower potential?
  • What is the sensitivity of the potential – will it change suddenly or gradually?
  • To what extent can anticipated risks be mitigated?

GEUS has worked with these questions for a range of catchments in Greenland, including Ilulissat (Paakitsoq), Qasigianguitt, Manitsoq (Tasersiaq/Isua), Qaqortoq (Qorlortorsuaq), Johan Dahl Land, Nuuk (Buksefjorden), Sisimiut (Tasersuaq) and Tasiilaq. GEUS also cooperates with Asiaq in a broader effort to map the water resources available for hydropower in Greenland.

CONSULTANCY FROM A POSITION OF STRENGTH

GEUS glaciologists are recognized scientists in a strong international research group, ensuring application of the most recent scientific results and methods in the pre-feasibility and planning stage. For specialized tasks, such as climate scenarios or airborne surveys, we use our scientific network to get the best-qualified subcontractors worldwide. At the same time, GEUS operates a local office in Nuuk and maintains close ties to villages and settlements all over Greenland.

GEUS is responsible for the national monitoring of the Greenland ice sheetmonitoring of the local glaciers and ice caps in Greenland and monitoring of the historical military installation Camp Century on the ice sheet near Thule. This work entails a considerable annual field programme, automatic year-round weather stations on the ice sheet, operational processing of satellite data, airborne surveys and modelling of ice dynamics and surface melt.

Our status as a primary producer of data gives us the strongest possible starting point for a range of consultancy services within the field of water resources in the Arctic. The senior scientists, advisors and consultants at GEUS are externally certified project managers who can draw on a broad base of geoscientific and technical expertise across the organization.