Nova Scotia alters renewable power plan, biomass regulations

By Anna Simet | January 22, 2013

Nova Scotia has amended its renewable electricity plan (REP) regulations, some changes to which affect biomass-based electricity.

The original REP rules were released in April 2010 and require a renewable electricity supply of 25 percent in Nova Scotia by 2015, using only resources made in the province. Amendments were developed through an extensive consultation process in 2011.

The most recent amendments include the addition of the definition of cofiring, and a requirement for Nova Scotia Power Inc. to operate the Port Hawkesbury biomass energy plant as a base-loaded unit producing as close as practical to its rated output on a continuous basis.

The Port Hawkesbury plant is a 60 MW biomass cogeneration facility due for completion in early 2013. The $208 million project is expected to create an estimated 150 new jobs in northern Nova Scotia and satisfy about 3 percent of the province’s total electricity requirements.

The REP amendments require NSPI to produce or acquire at least 260 gigawatt hours of firm renewable electricity in 2013, opposed to 2015, when the REP was designated to take effect.

Besides addressing shortfalls and overages regarding REP goals, the changes also reduce the cap placed on new forest biomass that can used to meet the REP to 300,000 dry metric tons annually. Previously that number could not exceed 500,000 dry metric tons (over the average amount consumed for the years 1995 to 2005).

The Port Hawkesbury plant will use 200,000 metric tons of forest biomass annually, but the company has previously told Biomass Magazine that it is unconcerned with the cap, as it does not affect the project, only projects that may come forward in the future.

Finally, the amendments include the addition of a clause that requires a biomass project to include a fuel procurement plan outlining how the applicant intends to ensure that its fuel supply will meet sustainable harvesting requirements, along with its application for REP approval.

The regulation amendments are available here.