“These standards make Nova Scotia one of the most progressive energy jurisdictions in the world”
– Darrell Dexter, former Premier of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is making major moves to renewable energy sources that can be seen as a benchmark for the rest of the country. The province, notorious for its reliance on coal, has begun a shift towards renewable resources. In April 2010, Nova Scotia passed the Renewable Energy Plan, committing to have 25% of its energy come from renewable resources by 2015 and 40% reliant on renewables by 2020. Nova Scotia is seeing the results of these measures already with the use of renewable energy sources increasing from 11 to 17% between 2006 and 2011 and it is expected that the 2020 target will be met.
How is Nova Scotia meeting these ambitious commitments? Here are five key changes:
Phasing out coal – Nova Scotia has made significant efforts to lower their coal consumption. The province’s dependence on coal has shrunk from a high of 80% in 2006 to 59% in 2012. The move away from coal has also triggered an investment in cleaner resources while the remaining coal-fired electricity units in the province must meet a very strict new greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standard or shut down under the new regulations The move away from coal will also improve the overall health of province. Coal plants are one of the leading sources of GHGs and create pollution that causes deadly respiratory problems like asthma. In 2005, pollution from coal led to some 660 premature deaths in Ontario, for example.
Source: Nova Scotia Power
Wind Energy – One of the investments in renewable energy by the province is wind turbines. In 2011, wind turbines delivered 316 megawatts of energy to the province providing 7% of all of Nova Scotia’s power. In September of last year a $200 million dollar wind energy project was given the go-ahead to be constructed outside of Chester, NS. The project would see construction of 34 turbines that would supply energy to 32 000 homes by January 2015.
The Maritime Link – Hydro energy from the Muskrat Falls Project in Newfoundland will bring renewable energy to Nova Scotia via 180 kilometers of subsea cables. The Maritime Link is a part of the larger $7.7 billion dollar Muskrat Falls Project due to be completed in 2017. The project will be incredibly valuable for the province in meeting their 2020 target. According to Nova Scotia’s Minister of Energy, Andrew Young, “The fact that we have the Maritime Link coming on stream, we’re not concerned about meeting the 40% target”.
Source: Nalcor Energy
Regulation – The electricity sector is responsible for almost half of the province’s GHG emissions. Therefore, the provincial government enacted “hard caps” on GHG emissions from electricity generation. The regulations will reduce GHG emissions in Nova Scotia’s electricity sector by mandating increasingly lower targets for allowable emission of GHGs for the period of 2010 to 2020, representing a 25 per cent reduction. Nova Scotia is the first and only jurisdiction in North America to implement such a regulation.
Community Feed-in Tariff (ComFIT) – ComFIT is a subsidy that is designed for locally-based renewable electricity projects. To be eligible for the subsidy projects must be community-owned and connected at the distribution level (typically under 6 MW). Wind projects (like the one outside of Chester, NS) can receive as much as 49.9 cents per kilowatt hour for the electricity they generate. By contrast, the rate Nova Scotia Power charges to domestic customers is about 12.6 cents per kilowatt hour.
Nova Scotia is a great example of what a jurisdiction can accomplish when there is the political will to create change. Despite having three different Premiers from three different political parties over the past 5 years, the province has embraced a move towards cleaner energy.
However, while Nova Scotia makes significant strides towards renewable energy and British Columbia continues to benefit from an effective carbon tax, some provinces have remained stagnant on the climate crisis. The time is now for our federal government to take a leadership role in combating climate change; British Columbia and Nova Scotia offer us examples of how targets can be met through innovative programs, regulation and a strong commitment to progressive energy.