Arctic Energy Summit: What can polar regions learn from each other?

“Whole communities are struggling to pay for just basic infrastructure and I think that’s the story,” says Nils Andreassen, executive director of the Institute of the North. (Courtesy Nils Andreassen)
“Whole communities are struggling to pay for just basic infrastructure and I think that’s the story,” says Nils Andreassen, executive director of the Institute of the North. (Courtesy Nils Andreassen)
Energy security and the cost of living are constant challenges in most polar regions.

While the South focuses on things like offshore drilling and how northern resources can be accessed to fuel southern regions, less attention is paid to both the energy challenges and energy  innovation in northern regions.

What unique obstacles do different regions face?

How can they be addressed?

Where can the different regions learn from each other?

Issues like these are among the many questions to be explored when the 2015 Arctic Energy Summit gets underway Monday, September 28 in Fairbanks, Alaska.

To find out more, Eye on the Arctic spoke to Nils Andreassen from the Institute of the North  about the Arctic Energy Summit and the real questions we should be asking ourselves about the future of energy in the North:

What works, what doesn’t

The event is being held for the third time and brings together everyone from business, to experts, to local leaders from around the circumpolar world to discuss issues, challenges and best practises from around the North.

” I wish the headlines were more about northern peoples flipping on the switch  and having their lights and their heat come on,” says Nils Andreassen, executive director of the Institute of the North, the non-profit specializing in Alaska and the North that organizes the Arctic Energy Summit

“In a lot of the Arctic, neither of those things are affordable, accessible nor using the best technology or renewable resources.

“In communities here in Alaska, people are having to choose between their water and sewer or having their house heated. Whole communities are struggling to pay for just basic infrastructure and I think that’s the story.”

Findings to go to Arctic Council

Information gathered at the summit, including findings, research gaps and emerging technologies, will be sent to the Arctic Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group.

To follow the event online, use #arcticenergy or watch the livestream at

Related stories from around the North:

Canada:  Energy challenges in Canada’s North, Eye on the Arctic

Finland:  One of world’s largest geo-bio-energy facilities slated for Finland, Yle News

Norway: Japan wants wind power from Arctic Norway, Barents Observer

Russia: No alternative to Arctic oil says Russia environment minister, Barents Observer

Sweden:  Will Sweden be able to produce enough energy in the future?, Radio Sweden

United States: Alternative heating system shows promise for reducing fuel costs in Interior Alaska, Alaska Public Radio Network


Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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