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December 18

Renewable Energy Resources in Your Own Backyard

In a world where the climate emergency is the most imposing threat upon humanity’s life on this planet, a subject often discussed is how to address it. One crucial aspect of the climate emergency includes our carbon emissions, Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, and the carbon footprint of fossil fuels. The solution to much of our carbon emissions? Alternative energy resources such as wind and solar.

We listen and look to, in reverence, the likes of Greta Thunberg, Jane Goodall, Autumn Peltier, David Suzuki, and countless others that speak of the climate crisis, but we often don’t notice what’s going on in our own region.

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New Brunswick in the Bigger Picture

globe under car wheel

In New Brunswick, like the rest of Atlantic Canada, we find ourselves often feeling removed from the climate crisis and the fight against it. We listen and look to, in reverence, the likes of Greta Thunberg, Jane Goodall, Autumn Peltier, David Suzuki, and countless others. However, we don’t often notice what’s going on in our own region. What are GHG emissions like in New Brunswick? In what ways are we fighting to better our energy production? Are those solutions entirely safe for the environment as advertised? No matter your views regarding policy, or politics, in large part we have all considered these questions. This blog seeks to answer them in an honest discussion.

The Climate Crisis in Your Own Backyard

In 2017, annual electricity consumption per capita in New Brunswick was 16.7 megawatt hours (MWh). New Brunswick ranked 5th in Canada for per capita electricity consumption, consuming 15 per cent more than the national average. Additionally, 30 per cent of New Brunswick’s electricity was generated by fossil fuels (namely coal and natural gas) in 2018. New Brunswick’s GHG emissions in 2017 were 14.3 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). But what do those numbers mean? Those emission levels are equal to 3,089,423 passenger vehicles driven for a year. However, New Brunswick’s emissions have declined 11 per cent since 1990.  The largest emitting sectors in New Brunswick are transportation at 27 per cent of emissions, electricity generation at 25 per cent, and oil and gas (primarily petroleum refining) at 24 per cent. New Brunswick’s emissions represented about 5 per cent of Canadian GHG emissions as of 2017. That may not sound like a lot, but we must remember we are a small province of about 750,000 people in a country of roughly 37 million.

In 2017, annual electricity consumption per capita in New Brunswick was 16.7 megawatt hours (MWh). New Brunswick ranked 5th in Canada for per capita electricity consumption, consuming 15 per cent more than the national average. Additionally, 30 per cent of New Brunswick’s electricity was generated by fossil fuels (namely coal and natural gas) in 2018. New Brunswick’s GHG emissions in 2017 were 14.3 megatonnes (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). But what do those numbers mean? Those emission levels are equal to 3,089,423 passenger vehicles driven for a year. However, New Brunswick’s emissions have declined 11 per cent since 1990.  The largest emitting sectors in New Brunswick are transportation at 27 per cent of emissions, electricity generation at 25 per cent, and oil and gas (primarily petroleum refining) at 24 per cent. New Brunswick’s emissions represented about 5 per cent of Canadian GHG emissions as of 2017. That may not sound like a lot, but we must remember we are a small province of about 750,000 people in a country of roughly 37 million.

Metric Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Produced by Various Industries from 1990 to 2017

metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent produced by various industries from 1990 to 2017

Electricity Demand by Source in 2018

electricity demand by source in 2018

Alternative Energy Resources In New Brunswick

In response to these statistics, you may wonder what New Brunswick is doing to lower its carbon footprint. Currently, roughly 41 per cent of New Brunswick’s electricity is produced by alternative energy resources (largely hydro and wind). As well, 77 per cent of our energy comes from non-carbon emitting sources (a vast share of which is from the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station). Nationally, renewable electricity generation has increased by 18 per cent between 2010 and 2017, with solar and wind having the largest growth. In New Brunswick, wind has grown to make up 7 per cent of our electricity generation.

wind as alternative energy resources

The province and the federal government, along with concerned citizens like ourselves, are looking to grow Canada’s renewable energy production. Accordingly, New Brunswick has followed suit, with the growth of wind power as mentioned above. Yet, solar power does not even make up 1 per cent of the province’s energy production. The demand for renewable energy is ever-increasing, and the production of solar power is on the rise in Canada. Thus, solar energy is a prime opportunity for development and investment in the province of New Brunswick today.

The province and the federal government, along with concerned citizens like ourselves, are looking to grow Canada’s renewable energy production. Accordingly, New Brunswick has followed suit, with the growth of wind power as mentioned above. Yet, solar power does not even make up 1 per cent of the province’s energy production. The demand for renewable energy is ever-increasing, and the production of solar power is on the rise in Canada. Thus, solar energy is a prime opportunity for development and investment in the province of New Brunswick today.

Roughly 41% of NB’s electricity is produced by alternative energy resources. Wind has grown to make up 7% of our electricity generation. Yet, solar power does not even makeup 1% of the province’s energy production.


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Are There Any Risks?

Having considered the GHG emissions of our province and the various facets of our energy production and renewable energy solutions, let's turn to the environmental concerns regarding solar and wind power. First, let’s be clear by asserting that solar energy systems and power plants do not produce air pollution, water pollution, or greenhouse gases. The same can be said of wind. Some toxic chemicals and heavy metals are used in solar power systems, particularly in the photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight into electricity. Some systems also use hazardous materials/fluids to transfer heat. Leaks of such materials could be potentially harmful to the environment, as well as their recycling and disposal.

Generally, the main environmental concerns for wind and solar power are potential negative impacts on the natural environment and habitats that surround it. Solar in a commercial context, however, does not have the same level of concern as a solar farm in a rural area. In a rural setting, the environmental concern of possibly disrupting natural wildlife habitats is higher.

We're All in This Together

That said, solar and wind energy production is on the rise not only in Canada but across the globe. Thus, there have been innovative adaptations both in policy and within the industry itself to mitigate the environmental effects discussed above.

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are conducted by the Province for any proposed development (at the discretion of the relevant Minister), including solar and wind farms. EIAs are a tool with the express purpose of mitigating environmental impacts, in particular the possible impacts mentioned above for wind farms. 

There are also multiple private and public entities that consistently fund studies on the specific environmental impacts of solar and wind developments. Rest assured, the concerns mentioned above are real, but industry professionals, government, and scientists are all working towards mitigating them constantly. This helps lower the risks of renewable energy production for the environment and our beautiful wildlife habitats.

That said, solar and wind energy production is on the rise not only in Canada but across the globe. Thus, there have been innovative adaptations both in policy and within the industry itself to mitigate the environmental effects discussed above.

Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) are conducted by the Province for any proposed development (at the discretion of the relevant Minister), including solar and wind farms. EIAs are a tool with the express purpose of mitigating environmental impacts, in particular the possible impacts mentioned above for wind farms. 

There are also multiple private and public entities that consistently fund studies on the specific environmental impacts of solar and wind developments. Rest assured, the concerns mentioned above are real, but industry professionals, government, and scientists are all working towards mitigating them constantly. This helps lower the risks of renewable energy production for the environment and our beautiful wildlife habitats.

alternative energy resources against blue sky

Lastly, designs for solar PV energy systems are always changing and adapting to become safer, cleaner, and more efficient. This, coupled with the growing focus on electronic waste disposal and recycling, shows a promising future for the mitigation of possible environmental effects caused by solar energy systems.

alternative energy resources in landscape

Alternative Energy Resources Are the Answer

Energy production still counts for a large part of our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint here in New Brunswick. Thankfully, alternative energy resources like wind and solar are on the rise to meet the climate crisis challenge. This will provide safer, environmentally friendly sources of power to New Brunswick families. Wind and solar power generation stand as a significant economic development opportunity for our region and will only become more prevalent in the years to come. Now is the time to consider the future, while also benefiting the here and now. Solar and wind power can do exactly that, and Naveco Power is here to help you take part in moving towards a more sustainable future.

Energy production still counts for a large part of our greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint here in New Brunswick. Thankfully, alternative energy resources like wind and solar are on the rise to meet the climate crisis challenge. This will provide safer, environmentally friendly sources of power to New Brunswick families. Wind and solar power generation stand as a significant economic development opportunity for our region and will only become more prevalent in the years to come. Now is the time to consider the future, while also benefiting the here and now. Solar and wind power can do exactly that, and Naveco Power is here to help you take part in moving towards a more sustainable future.

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