Canada - Nova Scotia supports industry with wind maps and approval guidelines

With a 20% renewables mandate set at the beginning of the year, the Nova Scotia government has launched new initiatives to encourage timely wind power project development

By Jennifer Delony

The Nova Scotia Department of Energy (NSDOE), in conjunction with researchers from Universite de Moncton and the Applied Geomatics Research Group at Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC), has released maps illustrating provincial wind resources that, if developed for wind power generation, could help the province meet a 20% renewables mandate. As the province gears up for new generation development, the government is working quickly to provide the municipal entities in charge of approving new wind farm proposals with recommended siting and approvals best practices.

The new wind resource maps, which are available online to the general public for download in portable document format at no charge, show wind speeds at 30 meters (m), 50 m and 80 m and include data for up to 10 kilometers offshore. The NSCC group soon will update the wind map Web site to include interactive geographic information system options.

“The interactive portion of the Web site will allow users to gain access to the wind resource modeling that was done and view that information with a number of other layers, such as roads, lakes, rivers, transmission lines and provincial national parks,” says David Colville, NSCC lead researcher on the project. “Users can browse any portion of the province to locate areas by way of the various features and get a sense of the wind potential with respect to other features that one needs to take into account when looking at developing a project.”

The wind maps will allow developers to identify potential project sites for development to help the province meet a target of obtaining 20% of Nova Scotia’s electricity from renewable resources by 2013 that was set by the government in January. Moving the province closer to reaching that target, Halifax-based Nova Scotia Power (NS Power) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for 130 MW of renewable energy in March. Proposals were due to NS Power by Aug. 31, and the utility plans to announce the winning bidders by the end of the year or as soon as power purchase agreements have been secured for the proposed projects, according to a spokesperson for NS Power.

Projects under the RFP must be in service by November 2009 – a fast approaching due date that is putting pressure on the municipal authorities charged with reviewing new generation development applications from the RFP’s winning bidders. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM), in cooperation with the NSDOE and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, released an RFP for consulting services to develop model wind turbine zoning by-laws and best practices for Nova Scotia’s municipalities.

According to the UNSM RFP document, the task of defining how new wind power projects will fit into Nova Scotia’s communities falls to municipalities. The RFP document also notes that “very few municipalities in the province are prepared if wind turbine sites are identified for location in their areas.”

A draft model and guidelines are due under the RFP by Nov. 23, with a final report due before the end of the year. There is “some urgency” to this initiative, says Peggy Crawford, municipal sustainability coordinator for UNSM. “We want to coordinate the guidelines for the municipalities to have as the NS Power proposals are being considered,” she adds.

Shear Wind, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-headquartered renewable energy developer, submitted a bid to NS Power’s RFP at the end of August for a 50 MW to 150 MW wind farm at the company’s north central Nova Scotia project site, called Glen Dhu. The company has since purchased the Merland Wind Project from Barrington Wind Energy Ltd. The Merland, Nova Scotia-based project, which has 50 MW of generation potential, complements Shear Wind's Glen Dhu site and provides strategic options for future expansion of Glen Dhu or for developing a stand-alone project, according to Shear Wind’s President and CEO Michael Magnus.

While the NSDOE’s wind maps reveal the province’s extensive wind resource, Shear Wind does not plan to explore sites beyond Glen Dhu in the near future. The Glen Dhu project, in addition to having an excellent resource that Magnus happily notes is validated by the new wind maps, provides up to 220 MW of grid interconnection, says Magnus. A lack of transmission availability, he adds, is a significant deterrent to exploring other locations with viable wind resources in Nova Scotia.
North American Windpower
Edited by Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist; Author: Jennifer Delony
wind energy, renewable energy, wind turbine, wind power, wind farm, rotorblade, onshore, offshore

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