On December 13, the Government of New Brunswick released its strategy for transitioning the province to clean energy: Powering our Economy and the World with Clean Energy – Our Path Forward to 2035.

The Atlantica Centre for Energy is pleased that the strategy is focused on four areas ensuring affordability, energy security and reliability, regulatory reform and economic growth, which are in line with its submission to the New Brunswick’s Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship in September 2023.

Strategy Overview:

The strategy is presented in several chapters; providing an overview of New Brunswick’s current energy mix, a vision for the energy mix and economic opportunities in 2035, and identifying actions to accomplish to ensure the vision is achieved.

The strategy identifies the demand for energy will increase with population growth, industrial expansion, and a shift toward low-emission energy. Specifically, the demand for electricity will increase with the electrification of many vehicles, industrial processes and heating. Energy conservation and customer choice will be increasingly important considerations.

Other drivers of change include climate change and federal requirements, such as changes to energy sources including the federal coal phase-out, the Clean Fuel Regulations, the proposed Clean Electricity Regulations, and carbon pricing.

Overall energy end use consumption in New Brunswick from all sources (2022).

Key Principles:

To meet these evolving energy needs, New Brunswick’s energy vision, which was released early in 2023, focuses now on six principles:

  • Leverage the province’s unique assets, location and natural resources to develop lower carbon energy solutions for provincial, regional and global use;
  • Develop hydrogen and other sources of clean energy to build and attract new business;
  • Implement SMRs as safe and reliable non-intermittent low carbon generation;
  • Build new clean energy supply chains;
  • Grow economic partnerships with First Nations communities; and,
  • Achieve both energy security and net-zero.

The province will release a hydrogen roadmap in 2024 and a net-zero blueprint in 2025 to guide these principles.

The province has identified several unique assets including Canada’s largest refinery and Canada’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, established nuclear generation, proximity to Europe and the eastern United States. Natural resource advantages include wind, minerals, water, forests and natural gas.

Development Plans:

  • Electricity:
    • The strategy sets a clear path to build new non-emitting electricity resources with a roadmap to integrating 1400 MW of new wind, 200 MW of grid-scale solar, 300 MW of behind-the-meter solar and 600 MW of new nuclear over the next 12 years. As well, the strategy outlines 157 MW of grid-scale batteries being added through NB Power or Saint John Energy.
    • This new generation is in addition to the planned refurbishment of the Mactaquac Dam and conversion of the Belledune coal-fired plant to use biomass.
    • Increase energy efficiency programs will be important to managing electricity load growth.
    • NB Power is actively studying the need for new transmission infrastructure within the province, and the Government of New Brunswick is working with neighbouring provinces and their utilities to develop a regional approach to transmission development and the building of new generating capacity.

New Brunswick Energy Transition Roadmap 2023 to 2035.

    • The strategy outlined considerations to extend existing fossil fuel-fired generating assets Grandview (natural gas), Millbank (diesel) and Sainte-Rose (diesel) beyond their current operating life for affordability considerations. The Grand Manan (diesel) asset would not be extended.
    • An additional, 800 MW of transmission between New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island is required to complement this new generation development and enable efficient interprovincial trade across the region.
    • The province has also committed to adding additional charging stations for EVs.

Regional electricity transmission upgrades by stage

  • Natural gas and renewable natural gas (RNG):
    • The use of non-electrical energy in the province will decrease over the 12 years. However, natural gas will remain an important source of energy, especially in industrial and commercial operations.
    • The strategy notes the province’s 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves could potentially be used to displace current imports to Atlantic Canada, as well help supply Europe. The province will continue exploring opportunities to develop this resource: “If a path forward could be found for development of this resource, it would be transformational for our province and our residents.”
    • RNG and hydrogen can be blended with natural gas to reduce its emissions.
    • The provincial government has already committed to enabling the local production and use of RNG and the associated infrastructure.
  • Gasoline and diesel:
    • Gasoline and diesel will see a decrease of 43% and 34% respectively from 2022 to 2035. These uses will in-part be replaced by electricity and clean fuels including hydrogen.
  • Biofuels:
    • The province expects biofuel consumption to double from approximately 57 million litres to 114 million litres of diesel.
    • The province will explore ways of making biofuels more available for consumers who want to adopt them.
  • Hydrogen:
    • New Brunswick is well-positioned to be a “leader in the production of hydrogen for both domestic and international markets.”
    • The provincial government believes the incubation and development of this new energy source is very important and is exploring potential hydrogen hubs in both Belledune and Saint John, focused initially on the export market while the domestic market develops.

Total end-use demand of fuels in 2022 vs 2035

    • The province believes there will be blending of 5% hydrogen with natural gas locally by 2035, and potential for hydrogen to displace propane in homes. Similarly, the province believes 5% of fuels used in heavy haul transportation sector will be converted to hydrogen by 2035.
    • The province is committed to supporting the development and start-up of at least one large production export facility between 2027 and 2035.

Select Additional Actions:

The provincial government identified several short-term actions necessary to implement the strategy.

Additionally, an energy transition working group will be created. This group will meaningfully engage with First Nations, indigenous communities and other key stakeholders to help ensure the strategy is successful.

  • Affordability:
    • A new energy app will be developed to allow customers to make informed real-time decisions on energy usage (using newly-installed smart meters by 2025).
    • NB Power will introduce a new off-peak energy rate for residential customers.
    • Establish a number of new energy efficiency programs including for behind-the-meter solar.
    • Review and modernize the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) mandate to strengthen its regulatory and governance framework as needed.
  • Energy Security and Reliability:
    • Working with NB Power to enable the establishment of a partnership with another nuclear operator to improve performance, lower operational risk and lower costs.
  • Economic Growth:
    • Encourage the establishment of a provincial energy cluster.
    • Create an economic development plan with a focus on energy resource development, SMR technology, clean manufacturing, natural gas and LNG, and critical minerals.
  • Regulatory Reform:
    • Complete legislative changes to the Electricity Act, the Pipeline Act, 2015, and the Gas Distribution Act, 1999.
    • Establish a regime for offshore wind projects (2024).
    • Streamline the environmental approval process for new clean energy projects, with the federal government, to move projects more quickly without compromising the integrity of the existing regulations and processes.