Renewable Energy

Nova Scotia began to accelerate its deployment of renewable energy after adopting the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in 2007, which mandated that 40% of Nova Scotia’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020 (Nova Scotia Power, 2015b). The same year Nova Scotia adopted RES, the Department of Energy introduced the Renewable Electricity Plan outlining mechanisms for encouraging development and amended aspects of the province’s electricity legislation and regulations accordingly.

Existing & Future Development

Nova Scotia has a variety of abundant renewable energy resources including wind, tidal, and biomass. With the world’s highest and fastest-flowing tides, the Bay of Fundy is a promising site for marine energy development, as are most of Nova Scotia’s offshore waters. The Nova Scotia government estimates that 2,500 MW of  tidal energy could be harnessed without adversely affecting the marine environment although initial procurement targets are modest at 15-20 MW.

The climatic influence of the Atlantic Ocean also provides Nova Scotia with very favourable conditions for the development of wind power projects. Currently there is almost 400 MW of wind in operation with commitments for another ~150 MW in the pipeline [i].

In addition, there are several hydroelectric dams in operation, the largest being the 200 MW Wreck Cove generating station in Cape Breton, which supplies ~7.5 % of Nova Scotia’s power. While the province’s maritime climate renders solar power generation less suitable, both solar home and water heating is viable and becoming more common.

Several bioenergy facilities generating power from forestry-related biomass, agricultural residues, and other organic based materials, are in operation or development[ii]. However, the future of biomass is uncertain due to public pressure over rising electricity rates. Several biomass projects are currently under review by the Department of Energy to assess their economic impact[iii].

Policy Mechanisms

Over the last decade, Nova Scotia has implemented a range of incentives for renewable energy adoption, although key programs like the ComFIT are no longer active:

  • Enhanced Net Metering: Enhanced net metering allows IPPs (individuals, businesses and community/not-for-profit groups) to connect a small renewable electricity project to the distribution grid through a meter that measures electricity flows in two directions. Under the program, IPPs can supply electricity to multiple meters under one account within a single distribution zone up to an overall limit of 1 MW.
  • Competitively-Sourced Commercial Renewables: The program was designed to incrementally procure 660 GWh of large-scale renewable energy projects to meet RES targets with half the generation. According to the Department of Energy, many of the projects needed to achieve the desired results are either built, under construction, or already awarded. 
  • COMFIT: Cancelled in August 2015, the province’s distinctive program encouraged community-based, local renewable energy projects by guaranteeing an attractive rate per kilowatt-hour for electricity sold to the grid over a period of 20 years. COMFIT rates varied according to scale and energy source. Upward pressure on power rates was cited as the main reason for cancellation.
  • Development Tidal Feed-In Tariff Program: The program is designed to support tidal energy developers in testing and deploying their large-scale in-stream tidal energy projects. The FIT applies to in-stream tidal single device projects or arrays greater than 0.5 MW. There are no limits on ownership. In December 2014, four developers were awarded the FIT for a total of 17.5 MW of tidal power.

 

[i] Government of Nova Scotia. Electricity System Review: Final Report, April 30, 2015. Retrieved 31 Aug 2015 from http://energy.novascotia.ca/electricity/electricity-system-review

[ii] Withers, P. “Nova Scotia biomass projects in 2016 could be halted”, CBC News, 26 Aug 2015. Retrieved 6 Sept 2015 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/nova-scotia-biomass-projects-in-2016-could-be-halted-1.3203851

[iii] Withers, P. “Nova Scotia biomass projects in 2016 could be halted”, CBC News, 26 Aug 2015. Retrieved 6 Sept 2015 from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/nova-scotia-biomass-projects-in-2016-could-be-halted-1.3203851

[iv] Nova Scotia Power. 2015b. Renewable Electricity and Emissions Regulations. Retrieved 2 Sept 2015 from http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/about-us/how-we-make-electricity/renewable-electricity-emissions-regs.aspx

[v] Nova Scotia Power. 2015b. Renewable Electricity and Emissions Regulations. Retrieved 2 Sept 2015 from http://www.nspower.ca/en/home/about-us/how-we-make-electricity/renewable-electricity-emissions-regs.aspx

 

Header Photo source: Dennis Jarvis.

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