EDITED BY STAFF, TRANSCONTINENTAL MEDIA
The Nova Scotia Business Journal
By 2020, Nova Scotia will be cleaner, greener and more prosperous.
The province’s 2009 Energy Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan released today, Jan. 16, will demand caps on emissions, more renewable energy and greater energy efficiency, and encourage growth in offshore and onshore activity.
In the years 2010, 2015 and 2020, the province will impose increasing caps on greenhouse-gas emissions from Nova Scotia Power Inc. Responsible for almost half of the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions, the private utility company will need to look for emission cuts throughout its operations.
“By 2020, Nova Scotia aims to become one of Canada’s most sustainable economies, and to have one of the world’s cleanest environments,” says Environment Minister David Morse. “These caps send a clear message to Nova Scotia Power – you have a big role to play to help us get there.”
The province will increase targets for renewable electricity use to at least 25 per cent by 2020. The province may further increase the target, depending in part on the results of a new transmission study. The study will examine options to make the provincial and regional power grid stronger and greener.
“We have opportunities in wind, tidal, biomass and natural gas,” says Barry Barnet, minister of Energy and minister responsible for Conserve Nova Scotia. “Our approach is clear – run a cleaner province, increase energy efficiency and benefit from the resources we have in our own backyard.”
Smaller-scale green electricity will also get a boost. All customers, from homeowners to farmers to municipalities, can now install wind turbines and other renewable devices up to 1,000 kilowatts in size, up from the previous 100-kilowatt limit, to get credit against their power bill for the electricity they annually produce themselves (known as net-metering).
The province will become 20 per cent more energy efficient by 2020. Meeting this target requires many actions, including education, home upgrades, driving behaviour, building codes and higher efficiency heating, including options such as natural gas.
The province will also lead by example, ensuring all new government-owned buildings are LEED gold certified after 2010 and carbon/energy-neutral after 2020. LEED is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a widely accepted rating system that provides certification of green buildings. All government-owned buildings constructed before 2001 will cut overall energy consumption by 30 per cent by 2020.
A large opportunity for improved efficiency is in the transportation sector where roughly 25 per cent of Nova Scotia’s greenhouse-gas emissions are produced. By 2010, the province will create a sustainable transportation strategy, examining public transit, active transportation, land-use planning and funding.
The province will also continue to encourage offshore and onshore exploration and development, spending more than $23 million in the next 12 to 18 months on offshore geoscience, ocean energy and environmental research. Natural gas has the potential for environmental and economic benefits as a domestic, cleaner burning energy alternative.
Plans for new geoscience, policy, regulation and marketing were released in October as part of Nova Scotia’s offshore renewal plan.
“We’re investing in geoscience research to attract new exploration and keep our offshore industry thriving,” Barnet says. “Offshore energy is a big contributor to the provincial economy, creating nearly 2,000 jobs each year. It’s also generated more than $2 billion in royalties since 2000, helping to pay for health care, education and debt reduction.”
Morse says, “We need to put Nova Scotia in a healthier, more secure position both environmentally and economically. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Nova Scotia is vulnerable to climate change along the coastline, where most people live and own property. The province will pursue adaptation research, a database of future impacts and, by 2010, new coastal management, water and natural resources strategies.
Nova Scotia’s 2020 target for greenhouse-gas emissions will cut the province’s annual greenhouse-gas production by at least five megatonnes by 2020, roughly equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. The province has already taken important steps toward its 2020 targets, including:
• requiring nearly 20 per cent renewable electricity production by 2013;
• helping more than 300,000 Nova Scotians use energy more efficiently through Conserve Nova Scotia; and
• regulating fuel consumption and emissions standards for new vehicles by 2010.
To create the strategy and plan, the province organized 13 public workshops attended by more than 250 people, met 19 groups, considered 145 written submissions and surveyed 2,900 Nova Scotians.