Nova Scotia examines expanding grid access to hydro

Nova Scotia has commissioned a study of expanding the province’s transmission system and integrating it with the rest of the Atlantic Region, allowing greater exchanges of electricity, including large hydropower and other renewables.

Nova Scotia’s 2009 Energy Strategy noted the province essentially is an energy island. Its electricity grid only has a 350-MW connection with New Brunswick. By contrast, New Brunswick benefits from 1,400 MW of interconnection with Quebec and New England.

The province is funding the C$300,000 (US$248,000) study by engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to examine options to strengthen Nova Scotia’s grid. The study supports a commitment in the Energy Strategy to encourage a “greener” grid.

The new study, expected to be completed this year, builds on another study that found Nova Scotia’s ability to surpass 2013 renewables targets will depend greatly on grid connections inside and outside the province. Increased amounts of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind require access to backup power to support them.

“Nova Scotia’s new targets for 2020 will mean at least 25 percent of all our electricity will come from renewable sources like wind, tidal, hydro, and biomass,” Energy Minister Barry Barnet said. “To get even more green power, we’ll need to strengthen the power grid connections that bind our province and region together.”

Researchers have identified Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy as potentially the best site for tidal power generation in North America. In May, Irish developer OpenHydro awarded a C$1.7 million (US$1.5 million) contract to Cherubini Metal Works of Nova Scotia to build a subsea base for a tidal energy demonstration project in the bay. (HydroWorld 5/6/09)

The new transmission study also will look at different system operator alternatives, such as a single regional operator able to balance electricity demand among several partners. The government said other potential benefits of a stronger grid include: reducing dependence on foreign fuels; increasing system stability and reliability; and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2008, three energy companies, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Emera Inc., and Emera subsidiary Nova Scotia Power Inc., announced they would explore options for exporting power from the proposed 2,824-MW Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in Labrador to Canada’s Maritime provinces, including Nova Scotia, and to New England in the United States. (HydroWorld 1/15/08)

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