Is There a Weak Link in the New East Coast Energy Connector?

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Climate experts are applauding a new plan to shift off coal on the East Coast, but say New Brunswick’s contributions aren’t as clean or reliable as they should be.

Last week, it was announced that the Atlantic Loop is being abandoned for now; instead, N.B. and Nova Scotia are pursuing a grid intertie that will allow the two provinces to trade power back and forth as needed. As of now, N.S. generates nearly 40 per cent of its power from coal and N.B. generates the same amount from nuclear, and 13 per cent from coal.

N.S. is focusing its efforts on clean energy sources and plans to build significant wind power to meet its emissions targets. And while one expert says more wind is a clear win, N.B.’s plan for its energy future raises red flags.

This week, the federal government announced support for the intertie along with funding for specific projects in both provinces to support them in getting off coal by 2030, as federally mandated. N.B. received $7 million towards the ARC Clean Technology Canada small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) at Point Lepreau and $2 million to help convert the Belledune coal-fired generating station to biomass, a process where waste wood is burned to create electricity.

Those two solutions are not as viable as N.S.’s plan for more renewable energy, said Moe Qureshi, manager of climate solutions with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. SMRs, small nuclear power generators, are expensive and experimental, he notes. To date, not one has been manufactured. N.B.’s plan to switch from coal to biomass also raises concerns, Qureshi said.

Source: National Observer