On March 11, 2022, the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee released the Clean Power Roadmap for Atlantic Canada. This Roadmap has been in development since March 2019 in partnership between the federal government, provincial governments across Atlantic Canada and their respective utilities, with input from Quebec and Hydro-Quebec who participated as observers. The document discussed the opportunities and challenges of building an ‘Atlantic Loop’ to share clean energy across the region.

Key findings from the Roadmap included:

  • Electricity demand is expected to increase across the region between 2020 and 2050… investments will be needed to update existing systems;
  • New electricity generating resources are needed to meet increasing loads on the system and to replace existing infrastructure;
  • Clean energy delivered across the region by enhanced electricity transmission could provide a wide array of benefits to the electricity system; and,
  • An ‘Atlantic Loop’ will be the backbone of the regional grid and could provide Atlantic Canadians with an affordable and reliable supply of clean power.

The Roadmap envisioned Atlantic Canada being powered almost entirely by clean and affordable energy sources including hydro, wind, solar and nuclear, as well as newer technologies including next generation wind, tidal energy, small modular nuclear, and new hydrogen generation (to increase firm generation capacity). The enhanced grid could lead to more cost-effective infrastructure and management, and economies of scale, among other benefits.

However, the findings noted that hydropower imports would not replace the need for additional local installed capacity in the region to meet future increasing demand.

In support of the ‘Atlantic Loop,’ several technical studies and discussions are underway to analyse potential transmission solutions including:

  • Hydro Quebec providing an additional +1,150MW into NB Power’s system;
  • NB Power receiving an additional +1,150MW from Hydro Quebec’s system;
  • NB Power providing an additional +800MW into Nova Scotia Power’s system; and,
  • Nova Scotia Power receiving an additional +800MW from NB Power’s system.

In addition, Newfoundland and Labrador has already studied the transmissions of an additional +200/500MW into Nova Scotia Power’s system.

According to findings, electricity demand is expected to increase significantly across Atlantic Canada between 2020 and 2050, largely driven by population growth and increased electrification. Associated costs are also expected to increase as greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Annual partial revenue requirements were estimated to rise significantly with a decrease in electric sector emissions. From 2035 to 2050, the annual partial revenue requirements (costs) rose from roughly $1.4 billion to roughly $2.6 billion, while emissions fell from (74% of 2005 levels) to (95% of 2005 levels) during the same period. It is important to note that the E3 model scenario provided in the Roadmap assumed a regional cap on carbon emissions.

Moving forward, the Atlantic Clean Power Planning Committee recommended advancing discussions on co-financing of priority transmission and other clean energy projects should be a key focus of the regional partners. In-line with recommendations from the Atlantica Centre of Energy’s Energy Regulatory Reform: An Atlantic Canadian Imperative discussion paper, enhanced regional cooperation and innovation and creating an enabling policy environment across the Atlantic region are priorities moving forward given the scale, complexity and cost of such a project.

However, governments must act quickly given the associated emission reduction targets. In January, 2022, Nova Scotia’s Premier, Tim Houston, stated: “Most of the discussions that I’ve been involved in talk about let’s try to get a litter closer on understanding where the money will come from, from which programs, in the first of (this) year. Heading into summer, there’s going to need to be some clarity around how this is financed.”