March 31, 2011 - Canada backs Lower Churchill hydro project

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Canadian federal government has just announced that it will support the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador.  The $6.2 billion project has been in the planning phases for years, but now appears to be moving forward.

Rich in natural resources, Canada is home to a great number of rivers with significant hydropower potential.  Many of these rivers have been dammed and developed in the past century; second only to China, Canada is now a leading producer of hydropower in the world.  In recent years, Canada has been one of the few countries to produce a majority of its electricity from hydropower, with some provinces like Quebec, Manitoba, and Labrador producing over 90% of their electricity from hydro dams.

Since 1971, much of the Churchill River's flow has been diverted into the Churchill Falls hydroelectric station.  At 5,428 MW, the existing Churchill Falls project has the second largest capacity of any power station in North America.  The Lower Churchill project entails building two new plants (Gull Island and Muskrat Falls) with a combined capacity of over 3,074 MW.

It remains to be seen what form the support of the Canadian federal government will take.

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