Fossil fuel energy has been the driving force since the Industrial Revolution. With the environmental impact of rising levels of greenhouse gases and the level of dependence on insecure sources of fossil fuels in Nova Scotia, the time to transition to secure renewable energy is now.
Nova Scotia gets most of its electricity by burning imported coal. Not only does this produce greenhouse gases and other air contaminants, the importation does not give the province a secure source, and much of the coal is imported from mining companies associated with serious human rights abuses. Natural gas from Nova Scotia’s Offshore is mostly exported to the New England States.
Production from the Sable gas field is producing export royalties rather then being distributed widely to Nova Scotians. The Sable field is expected to play out in about 2012. The Deep Panuke field will carry the supply starting at about this time but will itself play out in approximately 2020. There is no security in these supplies. Millions of dollars have been invested and the Nova Scotia’s 2009 Energy Strategy reports that plans are to continue to invest millions in Offshore petroleum and promoting Onshore petroleum, even though success in Offshore exploration is uncertain and Onshore gas production from unconventional fields like shale and coal is uncertain.
Transportation presents itself as a serious problem as it is the largest user of refined petroleum products in the province. The province does not have an affordable public transportation over much of its area and it offers little for safe, effective bike use. The switch to alternate energy sources in Nova Scotia should begin as soon as possible.
Conservation is by far the cheapest and most doable step. There is also great potential in cogeneration, where energy, especially heat that would normally be wasted from a commercial operation, is recovered for use.