Efforts to diversify Nova Scotia’s energy options saw some successes and failures this year.
The province now has more wind turbines than ever, with 41 turbines producing electricity around the province.
Nova Scotia ranks eighth out of nine provinces for the amount of wind generated electricity produced, according to the Canadian Wind Energy Association.
The 41 local wind turbines are in more than a dozen communities and added almost 60 megawatts of power to the energy grid, enough electricity for 18,000 homes.
More than 400 megawatts of Nova Scotia Power’s power capacity comes from renewable sources, including hydro, tidal and wind power.
The utility has 33 hydroelectric generating plants, as well as one of only three tidal power plants in the world at Annapolis Royal.
Despite these advances, NSP failed to meet its own renewable energy target of 100 megawatts for 2006, falling short by about 40 megawatts.
The collapse of a proposed 31-megawatt wind farm in Amherst played a big part in that shortfall.
The developers blamed Ottawa’s recent cancellation of the wind power production incentive and the rising costs of turbines for the collapse. The federal incentive program sparked expansion of the sector in the province by offering a subsidy to independent producers of at least one cent per kilowatt of power produced through wind turbines.
This past week NSP pledged to generate 130 megawatts of additional renewable energy by the end of 2009, enough to supply the power needs of 40,000 homes.
NSP president Ralph Tedesco hopes that Acciona Canada, developer of the Amherst wind farm, will put in another bid under NSP’s latest request for proposals.
The provincial government introduced draft regulations this fall to force NSP to increase the renewable energy being generated here. It also established an agency, Conserve Nova Scotia, to promote energy conservation.
The Halifax-based utility now generates about 10 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources. Nova Scotians may want more renewable energy, but having the utility wean itself from polluting coal-generating power plants will be costly, warn company officials.
The utility has told government that producing 20 per cent of its power needs by renewable energy by 2013 will hike consumers’ power bills.
Meanwhile, infighting over how wind power developers should be paid resulted in the chairman of the Renewable Energy Industry Association quitting this fall.
Will Apold, an alternative energy advocate and former chairman of the Renewable Energy Industry Association of Nova Scotia, parted ways with the group. His decision was prompted, in part, by a letter from some association members to the provincial government.
They were asking government to implement immediately standard-offer contracts to suppliers of all types of renewable energy, as has been done in Ontario.
The letter suggested that the contracts, which are widely used in Europe, would provide local renewable energy suppliers with a better return on their investment than they now get from NSP.
In other alternative energy news, rotting garbage at the old Upper Sackville landfill site has been converted into two megawatts of power by Highland Energy Inc.
In October, the 32-hectare dump site made history by becoming the first landfill in Atlantic Canada to turn its decomposing tires, buses, food and other garbage into energy, which it sold to NSP.
Also, Comeau Lumber in Meteghan is using biomass to produce one megawatt of power for sale to the utility.
And a recent U.S. study proclaimed the Bay of Fundy as one of the best sites in the world to produce tidal power.
The Electric Power Research Institute of California said a power plant in the Minas Basin would generate enough electricity to serve 117,000 homes.
But before any electricity is produced from tidal power the province must draft regulations on tidal projects and a pilot project approved.
By Judy Myrden
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