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Greener move never simple


Nova Scotia has delivered its share of news this week on the energy file.

First of all, on coal-fired generating plants, the province got the break it sought as the federal government announced the goal of seeing them shut down by 2030.The free pass is explained this way: the province in its efforts toward greener energy production has already met the federal target of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 2005, which the provinces have been told to achieve by 2030.

First of all, on coal-fired generating plants, the province got the break it sought as the federal government announced the goal of seeing them shut down by 2030.The free pass is explained this way: the province in its efforts toward greener energy production has already met the federal target of a 30 per cent reduction in emissions compared to 2005, which the provinces have been told to achieve by 2030.

Premier Stephen McNeil and the Liberals had already made it plain that phasing out coal earlier – the target now is 2042 – posed a difficulty. As Nova Scotia Power does advance toward establishing greener options, an imminent ban on coal power would mean having to build other generation plants, perhaps fired by natural gas.

Many would see that as an improvement, particularly those living in the shadows of a coal-fired plant, but the capital spent would mean higher bills for Nova Scotians in the meantime as the utility invests in projects involving wind, sun and tidal energy.

That latter source of energy has proven somewhat elusive over the years, but a landmark project got an official start this week. The first turbine for the Cape Tidal Sharp project in the Minas Passage has been installed and was supplying electricity to the grid as of Tuesday.

This project that came about as a partnership between Emera, which is the owner of NSP, and OpenHydro represents a big piece of the coming framework as the province continues on the path toward greener energy. It will be closely observed for some time as earlier attempts to harness this energy were ultimately defeated by the immense power of the tides – renewing the search for a model that could withstand the force.

A second test turbine is to be put in the same area next year. We can expect more to follow depending on the success.

With its Fundy tides, Nova Scotia is in a highly enviable position to tap into this resource. It’s a leap beyond burning coal.But we have to keep in mind the challenge to the project by fishermen in the region who fear the introduction could alter the habitat for various marine species in an ecologically sensitive and rich spawning area.

The answer they’ve received, boiled down, is that’s hard to determine without a test model in place.

It’s a reminder that even as we move to get beyond coal, production of energy using any method will involve checks and balances and judgment calls.

 

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