Nova Scotia is opting for wind, solar, and battery storage over the proposed Atlantic Loop transmission megaproject as part of its plan to eliminate coal-fired electricity by 2030.
The province’s new clean power plan calls for 1,000 megawatts of new onshore wind capacity by 2030, enough to meet 50% of its electricity demand, CBC reports. Nova Scotia will still import power from the costly and controversial Muskrat Falls hydropower project in Labrador via the Maritime Link power line.
The plan sets seven priorities aimed at achieving 80% renewables, phasing out coal, reducing power system emissions by 90%, and increasing grid resilience by the end of the decade:
• Batteries and renewables integration;
• Electrification and load management;
• “Fast-acting” generation;
• Emergency power and reliability.
“There are many options to shift our electricity system to renewable energy and we are advancing them to meet our goals,” Natural Resources and Renewables Minister Tory Rushton said in a release, adding that newly-unveiled amendments to the provincial Electricity Act would put Nova Scotia on track to exceed its 2030 clean power target.
CBC says the plan calls for 30% more wind and 5% more solar on the provincial power grid.
Today, Nova Scotia “generates 60% of its electricity by burning fossil fuels, mostly coal,” CBC explains. Provincial utility Nova Scotia Power “must close its coal plants by 2030 when 80% of electricity must come from renewable sources in order reduce greenhouse gas emissions causing climate changes.”
To get there, “we’re taking the things already know and can capitalize on while we build them here in Nova Scotia,” Rushton told media Friday. “More importantly, we’re doing it at a lower rate, so the ratepayers of Nova Scotia aren’t going to bear the brunt of a piece of equipment that’s designed and built and staying in Quebec,” at the other end of the Atlantic Loop.
A provincial government presentation on the clean energy plan priced onshore wind power at C$45 to $65 per megawatt-hour (4.5 to 6.5¢ per kilowatt-hour), wind+storage at $70 to $100, offshore wind at $70 to $140, and solar at $80 to $130, with natural gas and power imports coming in at higher cost—and the Atlantic Loop tipping the scales at $200 to $250 per megawatt-hour.
Smart grid and energy efficiency improvements were the most affordable option of all, at $0 to $50/MWh.
The provincial presentation said the projected price of the Atlantic Loop project has increased from $2.95 to $9 billion since 2020. “Burdening everyday Nova Scotian ratepayers with this level of new cost, plus the risk of even more cost escalation, is unacceptable,” the province said.
The slide show also warned that a combination of supply chain issues, a “tight construction industry”, and the need for negotiations and approvals spanning three provinces would prevent the project from going online by 2030.
“The loop is not viable for 2030. It is not necessary to achieve our goal,” said provincial clean energy director David Miller. Instead, the province will build a new 345-kilovolt transmission line between Truro, NS and Salisbury, NB, along with an extension to New Brunswick’s Point Lepreau nuclear station.
In a media statement, Energy Storage Canada took a victory lap for the 300 to 400 MW of battery storage in the provincial plan.
“In jurisdictions around the world and in Canada, energy storage technologies are being demonstrated to be a cost-effective option for maintaining reliability as fossil fuel use is minimized” said Executive Director Justin Rangooni. “It’s great to see Nova Scotia formally announce their initial targets and directions for energy storage.
Last week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson acknowledged the clean power plan as a “near term” solution to decarbonizing the grid, while pointing out that the Atlantic Loop was originally dreamed up by provincial premiers. “For this reason, the federal government tabled a generous offer of targeted federal support to advance the Atlantic Loop that would help Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to transition away from coal and decarbonize their electricity grids at a good value for ratepayers,” he told CBC in a statement. “This offer remains on the table.”
Late Monday, Wilkinson issued a joint statement with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick premiers Tim Houston and Blaine Higgs supporting a “modified Atlantic Loop”, limited to a single connection between the two provinces, The Canadian Press reports.
“There is still no certainty on exactly how the modified project will be funded,” CP writes. “Wilkinson said the loans committed to the full loop earlier this year are no longer on the table because the cabinet approval was given with the full project in mind. But he said there are talks ongoing about funding the modified version,” possibly through the new federal investment tax credit for interprovincial grid infrastructure or the Canada Infrastructure Bank.