HARDWOOD LANDS, N.S. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday promised green energy funds for Nova Scotia, but he also said the idea of upgraded facilities to help ship fossil fuels to Europe in the "very short term" is back on the table.
Standing in a farmer's field north of Halifax, with several wind turbines dormant in the background on a still and scorching morning, Trudeau announced $255 million for clean energy projects.
Up to $125 million will go to wind projects to provide clean power to around 350,000 homes in Nova Scotia, he said. The federal government says the money will create about 500 jobs and deliver benefits to local Indigenous communities.
As well, up to $130 million will help Nova Scotia Power install batteries to store clean energy at four sites across the province. The government says the batteries will help provide reliable electricity to homes and businesses and help with the shift off coal.
"The project will develop clean electricity and create good jobs," Trudeau said.
The prime minister noted that Nova Scotia's electricity grid is among those in Canada with a higher dependence on fossil fuels, adding that it requires assistance to accelerate a shift to greener sources of energy.
Peter Gregg, chief executive of Nova Scotia Power, attended the news conference and said the storage batteries will help the utility store power generated by wind farms being added to the network.
"We need those batteries to be able to bring more renewables onto the grid," Gregg said. "That's the goal. We need to get to 80 per cent renewable energy by 2030."
However, the prime minister also said that the war in Ukraine has heightened Europe's immediate need for Canadian natural gas shipments, as Russia has threatened to disrupt supplies.
"At issue is Europe's continued reliance on Russian oil and gas for their economy," Trudeau said. "Obviously, that can't continue. Because the billions of dollars that is sent to Russia for its oil and gas is then used to continue this illegal war against Ukrainians."
Trudeau said the Russian invasion is leading Ottawa to look at the "double-barrelled" issue of helping its allies with fuel supplies while also working to decrease oil and gas production throughout the country and abroad to battle climate change.
He said his government has been in direct talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about solutions in "the very short term," as Germany faces a winter "with Russia choosing to weaponize the source of gas and oil for them."
Trudeau also said increasing delivery of hydrogen is being considered in the medium term, which could involve facilities similar to those required to ship liquefied natural gas. He said the government is looking at "a number of different proposals around that," but he wouldn't get into specifics.
"So, even as we're looking at trying to get off fossil fuels … knowing that we can invest in LNG infrastructure in the short term that will then be useful for hydrogen in the medium and long term, means that we can meet both those short-term challenges and long-term challenges," he said.
There are two proposed liquefied natural gas projects in Nova Scotia that had appeared to be on the shelf until the invasion of Ukraine and Europe's sudden desperation to wean itself off Russian natural gas.
Pieridae Energy, the backer of the Goldboro LNG project, had proposed a facility that would bring natural gas from the West and ship it to Europe. The company put the project on hold last summer.
Meanwhile, energy company Buckeye Partners announced on May 5 it had agreed to purchase Bear Head Energy and its proposed LNG project in Point Tupper, N.S., a deepwater facility in Cape Breton near the Strait of Canso.
The company said in its release that the Bear Head project was previously focused on developing a liquefied natural gas import and export facility, and the "unique geographical characteristics give the region the potential to become one of the most productive renewable and green energy development areas in the world."
In a news conference dominated by energy topics, Trudeau also was asked when Ottawa might commit to helping fund the proposed Atlantic Loop energy corridor.
The region's premiers have been looking for a decision from Ottawa on whether funding is forthcoming on the estimated $5-billion proposal to connect the four provinces to hydroelectricity from Quebec and Labrador.
Trudeau replied, "I can tell you conversations are very active and ongoing."
"We need a large-scale solution in terms of getting a fully, 100 per cent clean electricity grid across the country by the 2030s," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2022.
Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press