Electricity from renewable energy in New Brunswick is increasing significantly. Government is committed to increasing the amount of electricity from new renewable sources in New Brunswick to 40% by 2020. Currently, approximately 28 per cent of the electricity consumed in the province comes from renewables in the forms of hydro-electric, wind energy, and biomass. In addition, New Brunswick continues to explore potential in biofuels and other clean energy sources.
Types of renewable resources
There are numerous types of energy possibilities that can be derived from our oceans and rivers. New Brunswick has been using electricity from conventional hydro installations for almost 100 years, however there is very limited potential for additional large scale hydro-electric projects as most of our ideal sites have been developed. New developments of hydro electricity could be achieved from deployment of small and micro size hydro electric projects. These run-of-river applications would capture the kinetic energy in rivers and streams without the installation of large dams.
What is tidal energy?
Tides are created by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon. Tidal currents are the strongest where the water passes through narrow channels. In New Brunswick we are fortunate that the Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world. Every day 100 billion tonnes of sea water flows through the Bay of Fundy and harnessing this energy has long been a goal of many engineers and scientists, However, installing and operating mechanical devices in such a powerful environment is a technical and environmental challenge. Tidal power does have many advantages including the fact that it is much more predicable than wind and solar energy making tidal energy easier to integrate and manage on power grids. New technologies are currently being developed and tested which have low environmental impacts and could be applicable in our coastal marine environment, however, tidal in-stream generation devices are challenged by high development costs.
In the past several years, New Brunswick has invested in research to better understand the marine environment and any potential impacts from future tidal energy development. As we move forward, any tidal energy development on the New Brunswick side of the Bay of Fundy will include consultation with all Bay of Fundy stakeholders including the fishing and aquaculture industry, tourism, First Nations and the environmental community.
New Brunswick has one of the strongest wind energy regimes in North America. There are 294 MWs of installed wind capacity in the province, which helps reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels and its associated fuel price volatility. Since 2006, New Brunswick has gone from having no wind energy on its system, to a point now when at times in the summer up to 50% of our total electrical needs are met with wind energy. Modern wind turbines provide a stable priced source of environmentally friendly renewable energy however, wind power production rises and falls as wind speeds increase and decrease. The variable nature of wind energy requires that the electrical grid have in place other generation sources to ensure that when wind production falls, electricity delivery remains constant and there are no interruptions of service. Wind forecasting is improving and new technologies are being developed which reduces the technical and economic challenges of wind energy. This will result in a lower cost to integrate wind energy on to the electrical grid and will fuel additional wind development here in New Brunswick and elsewhere.
Solar energy is a form of renewable energy which comes from the sun. When the sun is shining we can harness the energy in order to create electricity and or heat. One issue with solar technology is that it is still rather costly when compared to other renewables such as wind. Another is that it is weather dependant, as it can only be used when the sun is shining and therefore another energy resource would be required during times of cloud cover and or during times when the energy demand is high.
Solar energy can be used in a variety of different ways:
Photovoltaic energy – Electricity is generated using solar panels which collect the suns energy through black panels which are coated in small solar cells. When the sun shines on these panels, electricity is produced and feed into a battery or directly into the electrical system. Solar panels can be placed on a home, cottage, camper trailer and in many other places. This technology is a good option for those who own camps or cottages in remote areas where you are not connected to the power grid. Solar panels can also aid in reducing the amount of energy that you must purchase if you are connected to the electricity grid.
Thermal energy – Solar energy can also be used to produce heat. Hot water can be produced by placing large black panels on the roof of your home and then passing water through them, this reduces the need to use electricity in order to heat the water in your home. Solar energy can also be used to heat the air that circulates through a house or building. These options reduce the need for electricity and as such can save you money down the road.
This form of energy has no net greenhouse gas emission, since the carbon dioxide gases produced are recycled by plants, which absorb the carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and cellular respiration. This makes bioenergy an attractive, environmentally friendly, and sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources.
Bioenergy is not a new concept. It is one of the oldest of all energy resources, beginning with the controlled use of fire to provide heat, light and cooking for earliest mankind. The production of prepared biofuels also dates to ancient civilizations who made metal instruments in forges that burned wood in the form of charcoal. These civilizations also used liquid biofuels in the form of animal fats or vegetable oils for their lamps.
At one time in Canada, the combustion of biomass, usually wood, was the principal method for heating, cooking and providing hot water. Industry also used the combustion of biomass, along with water and wind power, as its principal source of energy.
Bioenergy includes solid biomass (i.e., forest product wastes, agricultural residues and wastes, and energy crops), biogas, liquid biofuels, and the organic component of industrial waste and municipal solid waste. Biomass-derived fuels are by-products of industrial or agricultural processes or fuels made from biomass feedstocks.
New Brunswick Biomass Development:
There are currently three large scale facilities in New Brunswick which are using woody based biomass to produce electricity.
• Twin Rivers Paper (87.0MW)
• Irving Pulp & Paper (30.0MW)
• AV Cell Inc. (17.6MW)
• AV Nackawic (25MW)
Some of these facilities are cogeneration facilities where heat and electricity are produced and then reused during the manufacturing process. New Brunswick sees great potential to increase the use of our locally produced wood based biomass as a way to increase our energy independence, support local industries, and reduce green house gas emissions.
Geothermal energy is the heat from the Earth. Resources of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to hot water and hot rock, which is located a few miles below the Earth's surface, down further to the extremely high temperatures of molten rock.