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Leading Economic Change: Energy & Sustainability


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Issue #2 of Leading Economic Change from the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities.

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Leading Economic Change: Energy & Sustainability

  1. 1. Energy & Sustainability Leading Economic Change Number 2, December 2011Why Worry About Energy?Political leaders around the world are worried about Hubbert’s Peakenergy for economic, political, and environmental In 1956, geophysicist M. King Hubbert successfullyreasons. predicted that the continental US would reach peak oil production in the early 1970s.His modelsWe know that the global economy is intricately tied to also predict that global oil production could peakthe price of oil. Our economies are incredibly sensitive by 2016, and then enter a terminal fluctuations in oil supply and demand. And we maybe quickly approaching peak oil production.Meanwhile, much of the world’s oil production takes enjoyed has now become a significant challenge forplace in politically unstable regions. This has raised electricity consumers (and for large industrial userssignificant concerns about energy security and energy in particular). Importing coal is one of the biggestdependence. leaks of wealth from our economy.And let’s not forget about what some have called “the The economic, political and environmental realitiesgreatest political challenge of our time”: scientists have are pushing all developed economies to find newpresented irrefutable evidence that fossil fuel emissions energy solutions. And the most progressivehave been changing our climate. jurisdictions are converting these challenges into opportunities for economic development.In Nova Scotia, we have been addicted to a particularly“dirty” fuel for generations. Currently, nearly all our Today, we are finally getting off the roller-coasterenergy (80%) is produced by burning coal. This of fossil fuel prices that drive the cost ofdependence is remnant of the days when we produced electricity, with clean energy becoming theall the coal we needed. But we now import about 87% linchpin for a new era of regional progress.of our coal. And in the past six years, global coal prices - Premier Darrell Dexterhave risen 75%. Whatever cost advantage we once State of the Province, Dec. 7, 2011 NSARDA is the link between the Nova Scotia RDAs, providing support and collective strength. Since 1999, the Association has helped the Nova Scotia RDAs in improving the economy of communities across Nova Scotia. For more information about NSARDA and the Nova Scotia RDAs please visit Leading Economic Change: A Discussion Paper Series from NSARDA
  2. 2. What are the Economic What Role Can Community EconomicOpportunities? Developers Play?Nova Scotia already understands the economic Researchers at Acadia University have begun looking atopportunities of energy production. The Sable Offshore how to create a thriving renewable energy industry inEnergy Project has yielded billions in tax royalties. With Nova Scotia. Such an industry would not only meet ourDeep Panuke now under development, geologists Province’s goal of 40% renewable energy by 2020, itbelieve we still have significant untapped reserves. But would also provide world-class exportable, low market prices have been restraining off-shore development, and Nova Scotia is now one of To achieve our renewable energy goals, we will require:many jurisdictions examining the prospect of hydraulic significant capital investment, local suppliers, anfracturing for on-shore shale gases. engaged research community, skilled tradespeople, and a diversity of knowledge workers.Like many developed economies, Nova Scotia is gettingserious about renewable energy. We already have According to Dr. Mark Jacobson (Stanford) and Dr. Markexperience with wind development, and have been Delluchi (U.C. Davis), the barriers to renewable energyexporting our related expertise in “community development are not technological or economic - theyeconomic development investment funds.” are social and political.We are also preparing to tap into marine energy This is why community engagement will be critical.sources. Four large-scale tidal power devices will be Community Economic Developers can lead the creationtested near Parrsboro, and the potential for smaller of these new industries by facilitating localscale development is being explored in Digby County. collaboration. We can help our businesses and communities identify their energy opportunities, andMeanwhile, some Nova Scotia companies have been then transition from the high costs of imported coal toexploring a new financing option for sustainability the sustainability of renewables.projects. Environment Canada can issue a “carbonoffset credit” to organizations that reduce or remove Ryan MacNeil, EcD, is Principal of Ryan MacNeil & Co., a companythe equivalent of one tonne of CO2 emissions. These that helps development leaders & organizations become focusedcredits can be sold to other organizations that are and effective. Reach him at to reduce their carbon footprints. In 2008, the Thank you to Dr. Shelley MacDougall (of Acadia University and theglobal carbon market was estimated at $139 billion. Fundy Energy Research Network) for background material. Who is working on it? Nova Scotia’s Regional Development Authorities (RDAs) have been engaged in energy and sustainability projects for over a decade. The Guysborough County Regional Development Authority was instrumental in supporting both the Sable and Deep Panuke Projects. They are currently facilitating local wind develop- -ment through the provincial “Community-Based Feed-in Tarriff” (COMFIT) program. The Department of Energy is leading the development of the provinces energy resources. In 2009, the Department published Nova Scotia’s Energy Strategy. This was followed by a Renewable Electricity Plan in 2010. In 2009, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency published an overview of the region’s energy sector. The Agency’s Atlantic Energy Gateway initiative is now helping to facilitate development of the renewable energy sector, and is led by the ACOA Energy Team/Atlantic Canada Energy Office. Leading Economic Change: A Discussion Paper Series from NSARDA