Study urges Bridgewater to pursue solar, wind projects


  • <p>The cover of the SNC Lavalin report to the Town of Bridgewater.</p>

Renewable wind and solar power projects are the most workable and appropriate short-term options for a South Shore town eager to shift to cost-effective, clean and secure energy supplies, a new report shows.

Solar and wind resources "are the most feasible for mid-term development (up to 5 years) based on the methodology, assumptions, and conditions evaluated in this study," reads part of the 250-plus-page report recently released by the Town of Bridgewater.

"Development of up to 12 MW [megawatts] of wind power is technically possible provided that the town considers using large-frame wind turbines: either six 2.3 MW turbines or three 4.3 MW turbines," according to a technology assessment commentary.

"Development of up to 12 MW of ground-mounted solar power is technically possible provided that the town allocates about 70 acres [28 hectares] of land for the project."

The Renewable Energy Resource Study, prepared by Quebec-based engineering firm SNC Lavalin, also considered Bridgewater's capacity for biomass, geothermal or so-called run-of-river hydro. None of those options were endorsed in the report.

"The development of a biomass project is technically possible but would cost more than developing other renewable resources," reads the document, in part.

"Using geothermal to generate electricity in the town is not technically possible."

It's also "not economically possible" to establish "hydro development at the low-head watershed locations situated around/near the town," the report notes.

The report is more encouraging about hydro prospects outside of town, noting places "along the LaHave River might be technically and economically workable for a run-of-river plant that would produce 2 MW of power annually."

SNC Lavalin's final report, completed at a cost of $124,704, was presented to civic politicians this month but council won't weigh-in on the document, which took nearly a year to finish, until early 2021. The cost of the report was fully-funded by the Smart Cities Challenge grant. The town won $5 million via the federal government contest in May 2019.

"Recognizing that this is a bit of a work in progress with things that can change before it comes to council for discussion and debate, we're currently waiting to see if some of the regulatory obstacles in place can or will be removed," David Mitchell, Bridgewater's mayor, told LighthouseNOW in an email.

"We know renewable energy is a big part of Bridgewater and Energize Bridgewater achieving its goal for a sustainable future. We also know there are challenges in the current regulatory environment that we will need to overcome in order for this to work. It's a solid report that will help guide us over the coming months and years. At this point I would simply say 'stay tuned' as we continue to work on this exciting project."

The Energize Bridgewater program strives to complete a transition to a clean, energy efficient economy within 30 years, and lift the 40 per cent of town residents who live in so-called energy poverty, a term which means households have little money for essentials because the cost of electricity and heating absorbs so much of the expenses. The goal is to lift 20 per cent of its residents out of energy poverty by 2028.

"An initial list of 16 specific land parcels were assessed for potential renewable energy development In the community, and multiple parcels were determined to be feasible for this use," Leon de Vreede, the town's sustainability planner, advised in a written report to council.

"A technical analysis worksheet was also provided that will allow the town to refine its feasibility analysis for specific parcels, as well as update financial and other assumptions as they change over time, allowing for a way to update the initial analysis that SNC Lavalin has performed in this study."

The study's secondary scope "involved economic analysis, as well as a review of applicable regulations and legislation. Greenhouse gas reduction and the potential for job creation was explored and community engagement was a focus," de Vreede noted.

Staff intends to file a series of recommendations for council's perusal.

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