Last year, Nova Scotia caught the world’s attention with its Renewable Electricity Plan that set a goal of implementing 25 percent renewable energy sources by 2015 and 40 percent by 2025. The plan includes North America’s first ever Community Feed-in Tariff (COMFIT) which, since launching in September 2011, has contributed to just over 100 MW of projects, and has more applications in the queue. Under the plan, the province also launched an RFP for approximately 100 MW of large-scale wind projects which wraps up this summer.
Wind developers and OEMS alike are keen to understand the potential for additional large-scale wind projects in Nova Scotia and across the Maritimes after 2015. Similar to other markets, grid capacity is a major concern with significant upgrades needed in all four provinces to allow for more transmission-connected wind. Curtailment is also a concern for developers and has been a focus of the current RFP.
Following the experience of big wind in Ontario, some experts are suggesting developers take a new approach to business development and look for sites close to transmission rather than those that offer the best wind. The long-term potential for wind developers here is considerable but a regional approach to renewables combined with key infrastructure investments is critical. The Maritime Provinces are working together to look at renewable energy policy development, system operator coordination and export potential for renewables with updates expected soon.
To date 19 communities, universities, First Nations and municipalities are heading a total of 26 COMFIT projects across the province, most of which are community-scale wind. What’s interesting is that despite their ownership restrictions and size, they’re attracting the attention of global developers and mainstream investors. Juwi Wind is partnering with Millbrook First Nation to develop its COMFIT projects, and WEB Wind Energy North America is working with Scotian Windfields on its projects that total 15 MW. Both Juwi and WEB have strong track records for developing community-based renewables across the globe.
Affinity Renewables, which is owned by the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), is partnering with Firelight Infrastructure Partners to finance its 3-MW and 6-MW wind projects. The company is also working with local wind developer Reuben Burge, President of Dalhousie Mountain Wind Farms. As more COMFIT projects move forward in the fall, we will likely see more partnerships between experienced developers and project owners who are looking for financial and project management expertise.
Many of the COMFIT projects will be using the Community Economic Development (CEDIF) model to raise funds from the community and this could prove challenging given the amount of projects seeking investment from local residents. Wind projects in Nova Scotia have had great success using the CEDIF model, however. Wind Prospect raised a record $2.3 mn for its Fairmount Wind Project by selling shares through brokerage firm Assante Hydrostone, for example. Innovative financing models are also evolving for these projects. The Mi’kmaq Communities are raising private equity to finance their 24 megawatts of COMFIT projects working with Ulnooweg, a First Nations loans and business services company.
Experts say municipal-led projects will be especially challenged when it comes to managing project execution. They point to the inexperience of local authorities in developing wind and a lack of resources. But the appetite to develop renewables among municipalities is very strong. Among the 19 groups heading COMFIT projects, five are municipalities developing small wind. Some local authorities are also pooling their resources to be able to lead COMFIT projects and attract renewable energy developers to their region. The Municipality of the County of Cumberland has joined forces with the towns of Springhill and Parrsboro to position themselves as a green energy center, for instance.
The COMFIT is up for its 18-month review this fall which will look at key aspects of the program including whether more projects will be approved and the potential for adding solar technologies under the scheme. This fall will also see the beginning of large-scale wind projects under the RFP. Results are expected in July or August and projects will begin shortly thereafter with a commercial operation deadline of on or before January 2015.
This September 24-25 in Halifax, renewable developers, OEMs and COMFIT owners will come together with government representatives and energy policy experts to discuss the business opportunities for renewables in the region and get the very latest updates on Nova Scotia’s Renewable Electricity Plan. Following on the success of last year’s highly rated event, the Nova Scotia Feed-in Tariff Forum will cover the critical questions around financing, partnering and project execution for COMFIT owners and offer large-scale wind developers and OEMS important insight on the business climate for wind across the Maritimes. For more information, visit the event web site. www.nsfit2012.com
Adrienne Baker is a director of Canadian Clean Energy Conferences and producer of the Nova Scotia Feed-in Tariff 2012.
Image: Mike Clime via Shutterstock
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.
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