Energy as a driver of change in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin

Brianne Kelly, Bonnie Keeler, Gary Helm, Gail Krantzberg, Thomas Lyon, Warren Mabee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Great Lakes Research
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 International Association for Great Lakes Research.


  • Energy-water-climate nexus
  • Renewable energy
  • Unconventional natural gas


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