Released in 2014, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) prioritizes the “least-cost” supply and demand options to meet future demand as well as its renewable energy policy obligations.
As part of the IRP, the provincial government has introduced a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandating that 40% of in-province electricity sales come from renewable energy sources by 2020, including wind, solar and bioenergy. While the RPS is promoted as a means of reducing the use of fossil fuel generation, critics point out that the 40% target applies to energy consumed within New Brunswick only, meaning that the province can continue to export fossil fuel power. Moreover, the 40% target includes hydropower imported from Québec and Newfoundland, effectively reducing opportunities for IPPs of other renewable sources like solar and wind power [i].
Since 2007, 294 MW of wind power has been developed in New Brunswick at three large farms – the Kent Hills Wind Farm (150 MW), the Caribou Mountain Wind Park (99 MW), and the Lamèque Wind Power Project (45 MW). Despite wind power accounting for only 7% of installed capacity, on some summer days up to 50% of the province’s electricity is supplied by wind energy, demonstrating the province’s powerful wind regime [ii]. While the province has not committed to further large-scale wind development, the Ministry of Energy and Mines indicates that an additional 208 MW is within the regional balancing area (meaning without the need for additional generation for load balancing), which would bring total wind capacity to just over 500 MW [iii].
New Brunswick also has a growing biomass sector, with several large-scale facilities in operation ranging from 17.6MW to 87.0MW in capacity.
Currently, NB Power purchases renewable power from mainly small renewable producers through its net metering program and the Locally-owned Renewable Energy Projects that are Small Scale (LORESS) Program detailed in the following section. It also offers power purchase agreements (PPAs) to its largest customers that operate renewable systems.
While NB Power has procured three large commercial wind projects over the past decade, the provincial government has signaled that the next phase of renewable development will focus on smaller scale projects with a particular emphasis on non-intermittent forms of generation such as wood-based biomass [iv].
[i] Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2015b. NB Power’s renewable energy target ‘a numbers game’, critic says. (14 April 2015). Retrieved 1 Sept 2015 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-power-s-renewable-energy-target-a-numbers-game-critic-says-1.3032790.
[ii] Government of New Brunswick. 2015. Renewable Resources. Retrieved 29 Aug 2015 from http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/energy/renewable.html
[iii] Ministry of Energy and Mines. 2015a. Future Development of our Renewable Energy Resources. Retrieved 1 Sept 2015 from http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/energy/energy_blueprint/content/renewable_resources.html
[iv] Ministry of Energy and Mines. 2015a. Future Development of our Renewable Energy Resources. Retrieved 1 Sept 2015 from http://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/energy/energy_blueprint/content/renewable_resources.html