The Opposition is questioning the likelihood of Nova Scotia reaching 2030 climate goals with a new energy plan

While Nova Scotia’s new plan to reach emissions reduction targets by the end of the decade is being welcomed by the opposition, all three parties say more clarity is needed on how the province will achieve its massive target.

Liberal environment critic Ian Rankin, Green Leader Anthony Edmonds, and Suzanne LeBlanc, the NDP’s environment and climate change spokeswoman, agree that more renewables are needed and that building clean energy in the province is a positive step, but they remain skeptical about Feasibility of the plan.

On Wednesday, Natural and Renewable Resources Minister Tory Rushton launched the Clean Power Plan, which includes adding an additional 1,000 megawatts of onshore wind and an additional 300 megawatts of solar to reach the province’s goal of achieving an 80 per cent renewable grid by 2030. As of Friday, he says this surge in clean energy, coupled with building a common interconnector with New Brunswick, will allow the province to exceed its goal and reach 88 per cent renewable energy before 2030.

Edmunds describes the amount of wind the project plans to produce by 2030 as “incredibly ambitious.” While he hopes to achieve the goals, he is concerned that “our government may not have the vision and ambition to achieve this because the scale we have to build is so large.”

While Edmunds said PC Tim Houston’s Conservative government had made some positive decisions on climate, it had backed away from important shifts, such as phasing out coal and carbon pricing. While Houston may avoid the political risks that come with signing on to the Atlantic Loop, Edmonds said the new proposal is not without risk.

“I know megaprojects have a bad reputation and reputation for cost overruns and risks, but I don’t think we’re avoiding a bigger project with this plan. It seems to me that we’re just kind of setting up one megaproject for another.

Edmunds points out that the amount of solar and wind power depends on “the significant deployment of energy storage technologies, some of which are still emerging. That could be risky.”

Rankin said he’s happy to see the province include the relationship with New Brunswick in its plan, something he said he advocated for while in opposition, but added the government faces a tight time crunch for construction. He also said the plan needs a clear path to electrify and enhance public transportation.

“I am still skeptical about whether they will be able to stop all eight coal-fired power plants, given that we have not seen any progress in the last two years,” he said.

Green Party leader @ALEdmonds describes the amount of wind the project plans to deliver by 2030 as “incredibly ambitious”.

Unless the Communist Party government, which came to power in 2021, closes coal plants during its first term, Rankin said he did not see a path in which the 2030 target would be possible.

“If they had realized earlier that wind was the preferred approach, they should have started bidding more when they first got into office. It takes time,” he said.

As far as LeBlanc is concerned, the energy plan has many of the same loopholes as the province’s climate plan released in 2022. While the province says it will cut greenhouse gas emissions 53 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions . By 2050, it will lack progressive targets that would help keep the government accountable, she added.

“Without these things, it would be very difficult to know if we are on the right track and if we need to do things differently,” she explained.

There was also a gap, LeBlanc said, in the lack of measures to make buildings and homes more energy efficient during the announcement, which Rankin also stressed as essential.

“As always, the devil is in the details. We don’t have the details. We don’t have a price tag, we don’t have clear timelines. So we can’t really evaluate whether the plan will actually allow us to achieve our goals,” LeBlanc said.

Leave behind the loop

The strategy to significantly increase renewable energy sources in the northern region is new. Until last week, a massive East Coast power grid project called the Atlantic Loop was touted as the path by which the county could reach the goals. The loop, which relies on hydropower from Quebec and Labrador, would shift the northern province away from coal, the fossil fuel that now provides nearly 40 per cent of the province’s energy. Now, both NS and New Brunswick have said the full loop is no longer part of their short-term emissions targets. However, the interior is the western portion of the project, and could be expanded to build the loop later, the NS Department of Natural and Renewable Resources said Wednesday.

The planned link will include a connection to Point Lepreau, Atlantic Canada’s only nuclear power plant, which plans to host a small nuclear reactor (SMR) by 2030. However, the plant has faced increasing issues with reliability, and critics question whether SMR technology will Technology that has never been successfully built and has been criticized for its high price and the nuclear waste it leaves behind) will be ready in time.

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