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Port Hawkesbury Paper proposing to build Nova Scotia’s largest wind farm

Port Hawkesbury Paper is developing a wind farm project that could be the largest in Nova Scotia.

The development of the project started three years ago and the current plan is to install 28 towers that could each support a four-megawatt turbine.

Allan Eddy, the director of business development for the paper mill, said the goal of the project is to enhance the sustainability of the business.

“We’re always looking to reduce our various inputs and the impacts of our inputs, and energy is one of our largest inputs to the business,” said Eddy. “As you reduce your inputs, that hopefully helps reduce your costs.”

The mill, which produces supercalendared paper used in magazines, catalogues and retail inserts, is Nova Scotia Power’s largest customer and accounts for about 10 per cent of the utility’s overall load.

Construction of the wind farm could begin in 2022, subject to due diligence work and regulatory requirements. It is projected that the wind farm will be able to provide the paper mill with a third of its power.

The largest wind farm in Nova Scotia is currently South Canoe, a 102-megawatt operation involving 34 turbines located in the Municipality of Chester.

Eddy said since the Port Hawkesbury Paper proposal is still in development, the number of towers could change. He said there are five- and six-megawatt turbines that could allow the mill to use fewer towers.

Two meteorological towers were installed in nearby Guysborough County last year. Eddy said the data from the towers is needed to decide if the wind gusts are steady enough to support the wind farm.

There are areas that are promising, he said, “but of course you need the proof that is in the pudding.”

Steady wind gusts are needed, he said, and areas with gusts that are regularly too high or too low are not ideal.

Eddy said the project cost could be in the $200-million range, although there is no firm number at the moment.

“That’s what the due diligence process is all about, is to prove the financial viability of it and then we can go to the market for investors,” said Eddy.

With Files from Information Morning Cape Breton