Nova Scotia sets five-gigawatt target for offshore wind power by 2030

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia announced on Tuesday its intent to make offshore wind power a key driver of its future energy supply, setting a target of five gigawatts generated from offshore turbines by 2030.

Premier Tim Houston told reporters the ambitious plan to introduce offshore wind power would triple the province's current total energy output of 2.5 gigawatts.

“The wind is there,” Houston said. “It’s up to us to have the leadership and the courage to harness it.”

The premier said that while Nova Scotia is in a race with other jurisdictions around the world to develop an offshore wind industry, the province has the proper wind speeds to be competitive.

According to the Department of Natural Resources, Nova Scotia is well-suited to develop offshore wind with optimal speeds of 10 to 11 metres per second dispersed across large areas of mostly shallow waters due to its continental shelf.

“Canada as a country is far behind,” Houston said. “We have zero offshore wind production right now, so that’s an issue. I’m focused on Nova Scotia being a leader and changing that.”

He said the idea is to develop wind energy for the production of green hydrogen for use in the province and for export, adding that his government will be developing a green hydrogen action plan to be released in 2023.

Newfoundland and Labrador, which is also home to some of the strongest winds in Canada, lifted a moratorium on offshore wind development in April. Prominent Atlantic region businessman John Risley is leading a proposal for a wind-powered hydrogen and ammonia production facility based in Stephenville, N.L.

Houston said Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambition is not in conflict with Nova Scotia’s.

“We want to promote the region,” he said. “They have potential, we have potential ... we have to get the regulations in place and are working closely with the federal government to make sure we do that.”

The authority that regulates offshore gas development in the province is the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, which in April announced its intent to expand its mandate into offshore renewable energy. It’s not clear exactly when Ottawa and the province will align their offshore legislation and regulations to make wind development possible, but officials said it could happen by sometime next year.

Houston said his province plans to issue its first call for tenders through a competitive bid process by 2025, with all offshore leases awarded by 2030. The premier added that the industry will be developed in consultation with the province’s First Nations and with the fishing industry.

David Timm, global head of public affairs with Toronto-based offshore wind company Northland Power Inc., said Nova Scotia’s call for five gigawatts in development is on par with projects seen in Europe and Asia.

“Five gigawatts is a great start in terms of driving toward that scale of projects that will drive down project economics and keep us competitive,” Timm said.

He said it’s hard to say at this point how many turbines will be needed because the size of the technology is constantly evolving.

Four years ago, the industry was building eight-megawatt turbines, and now it is planning 14-megawatt turbines -- “and growing,” Timm said, adding that the industry is moving toward producing more energy with fewer turbines.

“And by the time we are out in the water in Nova Scotia, who knows where that (project scale) will go,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2022.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press