Energy is an important driver of change in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin, having a large impact on the environment and the economy. Demand for energy in the basin over the past 50. years has been met by a mix of sources, mainly coal, oil, conventional natural gas, nuclear, and hydropower. However, in the last decade there has been a shift towards an increased capacity in renewable energy production and unconventional natural gas. Each energy source has a unique set of social, economic and environmental impacts. Understanding these impacts is imperative for the continued development of the basin energy sector in a way that minimizes negative impacts. In this article, we review trends in energy use in the basin over the past 50. years, while highlighting recent developments in wind-derived electricity and unconventional natural gas. We examine the impacts of energy production and use on other drivers of change in the basin with an emphasis on the energy-water-climate nexus. While focusing on the pivotal role of government policy, we outline three alternative future scenarios for the energy sector in the basin along with their likely impacts. We also present key challenges that the basin may face over the next 50. years as the energy sector develops. Recommendations to facilitate the development of the energy sector in the basin while minimizing negative impacts on other drivers are given.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the Great Lakes Futures Project, supported by the Transborder Research University Network (TRUN), GLFP funding universities, Environment Canada , the Michigan Sea Grant and the New York Sea Grant . We acknowledge the Canada Research Chair ( 950-228034 ) and Canadian Network of Aquatic Ecosystem Services ( 417353-2011 ) grants to Dr. Irena Creed (and her staff J. Miller, D. Aldred and C. Fuss) who assisted in editing and preparing the graphics for the article. We also acknowledge I. Creed, K. Friedman, K. Laurent and the two anonymous reviewers for reviewing a draft of the manuscript.
- Energy-water-climate nexus
- Renewable energy
- Unconventional natural gas