NB Power plans to eliminate coal from its energy mix by 2030 by identifying a new, cleaner energy source to keep the Belledune Generating Station operational for decades to come.
“Climate change is the biggest challenge facing humankind,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “Coal-fired power plants are major emitters of greenhouse gases, and we have an opportunity to explore new alternative fuel sources while, at the same time, growing the provincial economy through innovation.”
NB Power is analyzing alternative fuel sources to power the Belledune station. The utility has invested up to $7 million to investigate the use of hydrogen fuel sources, while also looking at biomass and natural gas as alternatives.
This initiative is part of a larger strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a variety of sectors.
The provincial government committed in 2016 to work with the federal government, neighbouring provinces, NB Power and other stakeholders toward phasing out coal as a source of electricity as quickly as possible.
“We have a tremendous asset in the power plant at Belledune, and we plan to capitalize on that asset by investigating innovative, leading sources of alternative fuel,” said Doucet. “In the unlikely event an alternative fuel source cannot be found, an equivalency agreement could still be pursued with Ottawa consistent with the federal government’s low carbon economy plan.”
NB Power is also implementing other initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, including a variety of consumer-based energy efficiency programs, smart grid applications, and demand side management.
“It fits with our vision of sustainable energy for our customers,” said NB Power president CEO Gaëtan Thomas. “It is the right thing to do. We are looking at how we can achieve the greatest possible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining the safe and reliable operation of our electricity system.”
The government and NB Power are also investigating funding opportunities for clean energy initiatives from the federal government. The recently formed New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture of the government and NB Power to capitalize upon New Brunswick’s geography in exporting energy and to pursue economic development opportunities in the clean energy sector.
Last year, the provincial government launched Transitioning to a Low-Carbon Economy – New Brunswick’s Climate Change Action Plan. Based on recommendations from the select committee on climate change, it provides a list of actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while promoting economic growth and increasing the province’s resilience to climate change through adaption.