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Nova Scotia releases offshore wind roadmap

By David Randell, Robert Grant, K.C., Sadira Jan, and James Gamblin

On June 14, 2023, the Province of Nova Scotia released the first of three modules (the “Module”) which will comprise the Nova Scotia Offshore Wind Roadmap; a roadmap intended, among other things, to provide clarity on how the Province intends to offer leases for 5GW of wind energy by 2030.

The Module is the first of three modules, and sets out the federal and provincial regulatory path for offshore wind development. The second module, scheduled to be released in the spring of 2024, will focus on supply chain and infrastructure opportunities for “clean, inclusive economic growth”. The third module, scheduled to be released in the fall of 2024, will detail the findings from engagement with Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous communities as well as community, environmental and industrial stakeholders.

For the first time, the Province has clearly indicated its willingness to pursue early wind development for nearshore areas solely under provincial jurisdiction, noting:

As both an interim and complimentary approach for offshore wind across all of Nova Scotia’s offshore, the Province of Nova Scotia is considering the authority and provisions of the Marine Renewable-Energy Act to designate an Area of Marine Renewable Energy Priority for offshore wind in Nova Scotia’s nearshore (i.e., marine water under the jurisdiction of the Province).

For these nearshore areas solely under provincial jurisdiction, the Module indicates that developers seeking seabed leases can expect access to seabed rights for wind development as early as 2024.

Resource development for offshore areas beyond the nearshore areas solely under provincial jurisdiction, are jointly managed by the federal government and the Province in light of concurrent or unsettled provincial and federal jurisdiction over offshore areas in accordance with Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act, SC 1988, c 28 and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord and Implementation Act SNS 1987 (the “Accord Acts”).

It is expected that developers should have access to seabed rights by 2025 for the offshore areas that are jointly managed by the provincial and federal governments under the Accord Acts. The Module indicates that the first commercial-scale offshore wind project could be completed shortly after 2030.

In connection with the development of offshore wind projects in offshore areas managed under the Accord Acts, the Province intends to introduce legislation in early 2024 to mirror recently introduced federal legislation required to modernize the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (the “CNSOPB”). The reconstituted CNSOPB will be renamed the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Board and will have an expanded mandate to regulate offshore wind activities in the joint management area. [Read our article on Bill C-49]

While the criteria for the offshore wind call for bids has not been set, the Module indicates they will be based on “…multifactor criteria, looking to lessons from other jurisdictions, but also considering specific features of Nova Scotia’s offshore wind sector.” The Province will be seeking input on the criteria for the call for bids as the policy for seabed lease issuance is developed throughout 2023 and 2024.

The Module lists two main purposes for offshore wind development: (i) as a source of clean electricity; and (ii) to support the production of low carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen. The Module contemplates four potential routes to market for offshore wind energy:

  1. provincial demand for clean electricity or green fuels;
  2. regional/national demand of clean electricity or green fuels;
  3. demand for clean electricity from the United States; and
  4. international demand for low carbon, green fuels and chemical feedstock.

In order to incentivize early developments, the Module indicates that the Province is investigating opportunities to provide offshore wind developers with additional support by acting as a ‘buyer of last resort’ for early projects that do not secure takeoff deals. It is not clear at this point how the Province intends to structure such arrangements.

Stewart McKelvey understands the environmental benefits of the renewable energy sector and its potential for economic growth in Atlantic Canada. With legislative and regulatory changes in this sector, our dedicated Energy Practice Group is ready to assist.

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