Atlantic Energy Gateway could lead to a cleaner energy future

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

Charlottetown -- Energy Ministers from Canada and the four Atlantic provinces wrapped up meetings this week in Charlottetown focused on enhancing government and regional power utilities cooperation in Atlantic Canada for a cleaner energy future.

Joe Oliver, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, joined his provincial counterparts to announce the results of studies undertaken under the Atlantic Energy Gateway (AEG) initiative.

'Today's announcement demonstrates our government's ongoing work with the Atlantic provinces in their transition to a cleaner energy future,' said Minister Oliver.

'We will continue supporting innovation that advances clean energy technologies and promotes the sustainable use of our energy resources across Canada.'

The research demonstrates that increased collaboration and cooperation among provinces and regional power utilities in Atlantic Canada will yield significant future benefits to the region.

'The ongoing Atlantic Energy Gateway work, in addition to our New Brunswick Energy Blueprint, lays the ground work for future collaborations and partnerships with our neighbours in Atlantic Canada,' said Craig Leonard, New Brunswick's Acting Minister of Energy.

'NB Power's generation capacity coupled with our geographical location makes New Brunswick not only a reliable source of electricity for our Atlantic partners, but also the natural gateway to north-eastern markets.'

Research efforts were directed at eight modeling and research studies, grouped within two general areas:

  1. Power System Planning and Operations Modeling; and
  2. Clean Energy Industrial and Economic Development.

Research Summaries

Power System Planning and Operations Modeling

The objective of the Power System Planning and Operations Modeling was to examine the costs and benefits that could result from greater integration of the Atlantic power systems. Four reports were produced in association with the following interrelated studies:

Resource Development Modeling- Estimated the economic and environmental benefits that could result from planning power generation and transmission projects in Atlantic Canada in an integrated fashion rather than separately, as is done today.

Transmission Modeling- Quantified the increased inter-provincial transmission capacity that would be achieved by a number of key transmission upgrade options within Atlantic Canada, as well as the associated costs with such projects.

Power System Balancing Modeling- Estimated the operational cost savings that could be achieved by balancing power supply and demand in Atlantic Canada on a common basis rather than separately, as is done today.

Power System Operations Options and Considerations- Reviewed various models for operating the power systems in the Atlantic Region and issues associated with their adoption. Each province possesses important renewable resources and clean energy assets. Developing them strategically will have benefits for all parties. The AEG study work involved unprecedented collaboration amongst the regional utilities, which took on the challenge of modeling the regional power systems out to 2040.

The modeling outcomes indicate that, through regional cooperation, there is significant opportunity for development and operating cost efficiencies, greater diversity in clean and renewable energy supplies, enhanced stability for ratepayers and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the Atlantic region. Important savings in capital and operating costs could be avoided by planning collaboratively, and further savings could be realized by also balancing hour-by-hour supply and demand needs on a more regional scale.

Clean and Renewable Energy Industrial and Economic Development

The second component of the AEG work was to examine various issues related to the development of the Atlantic Region's clean and renewable energy industry. The research agenda was carried out through four individual studies:

Financing of Renewable Electricity Projects in Atlantic Canada- Identified and analyzed the challenges associated with financing of renewable energy projects by independent power producers in the Atlantic Provinces.

Regional Clean and Renewable Energy Market Opportunities- Identified interprovincial and export opportunities for Atlantic Canadian clean and renewable energy.

Renewable Generation Supply Chain Opportunities- Examined a range of issues associated with opportunities for Atlantic Canadian firms in the supply chain for various renewable generation technologies including onshore and offshore wind, tidal energy, biomass energy, and systems to power remote on- and off-grid communities.

Research, Development and Demonstration- Examined the current state of clean and renewable energy research, development and demonstration in Atlantic Canada. The analysis indicated that while large renewable energy projects such as those in the wind sector may be capitalized and developed on the same terms as those in other parts of Canada, and indeed North America, smaller project developers do face obstacles in accessing capital at competitive rates and project 'soft' costs can be problematic.

While current New England wholesale electricity prices are historically low due to the abundance of unconventional natural gas, there will continue to be a premium paid for renewable power as future renewable and environmental regulations become more stringent.

Key Findings

Key findings with respect to research, development, and demonstration projects in Atlantic Canada reveal a diversity of academic and institutional work in a number of sub-sectors.

The region also encompasses leading R&D work that may hold the promise of commercialization and broader sector potential developments. Many technologies currently under development may have marketable applications outside of the region.

The research confirms Atlantic Canada is well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in the clean and renewable sector, in particular those elements of the supply chain relevant to the marine sector.

For example, while current business opportunities to service the tidal power sector are limited, the region is well positioned in terms of industrial infrastructure to contribute substantially to this supply chain as it matures.

Executive summaries for the AEG reports can be accessed on the ACOA website

About the Atlantic Energy Gateway - The AEG is co-managed by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Natural Resources Canada in collaboration with the Atlantic Provinces, regional utilities and electricity system operators.

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