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| 02/07/16

Nova Scotia rapidly shifting to renewables


Wind followed by hydro, tidal and biomass contributed more than a quarter of Nova Scotia’s power in 2015, the still-highly coal-dependent province’s power authority says.

Renewable sources of energy accounted for 26.6 per cent of the province’s power last year, according to new data from Nova Scotia Power.

It’s another step forward in the province’s plan to have 40 per cent clean power by 2020. That’s up from just nine per cent in 2007. The utility currently estimates that renewables may supply 47 per cent of the province’s electricity by 2020.

Unlike British Columbia, which already gets more than 90 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources—largely hydro—Nova Scotia has raced to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to power its electricity grid.

Coal currently accounts for 55 per cent of all electricity generated in the province, according to Nova Scotia Power statistics. Alberta, for comparison, also gets around 55 per cent of its electricity from coal.

Nova Scotia hopes to bring that figure down to 45 per cent by 2020, while bringing gas-fired production down to three per cent of the energy mix by that year. Currently, natural gas accounts for 13.8 per cent of electricity generation.

Hydro, wind, biomass and clean energy imports are expected to make up the difference, growing to 22, 18, seven and five per cent, respectively. The hydropower would come from a transmission line to the controversial Muskrat Falls dam in Labrador, which has gone over budget at a time when power demand is falling.

“No other utility in Canada has made this rapid of a transition,” said Nova Scotia Power vice president Mark Sidebottom said.  “In 2020, we will have a greater percentage of our electricity coming from renewables than Germany, which is often recognized as a world leader in renewable energy.”

The province set another record on a breezy night in June last year when, for one hour, 50 per cent of all power in the province was generated by wind.

Nova Scotia Power attributed the record to a new 34-turbine wind farm, the largest in the province. However, the record was set at night, when electricity demand is roughly half the daytime average, highlighting the need for better storage capacity or sources of energy that are not as intermittent as wind.

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