As 2020 nears, it brings not only a new decade but also a new set greenhouse gas emission targets for Nova Scotia, as the province looks to meet to help curb the effects of climate change.
Solar energy will represent a crucial stake in meeting those ambitious GHG targets, which was highlighted Wednesday at the Nova Scotia Solar Summit, where industry leaders, along with government policymakers and green entrepreneurs helped shed light on the solar capabilities of the future.
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“The solar energy industry has grown massively in the last 10, 20 years, from virtually zero to where it is today,” said Wesley Johnston, president and CEO of the Canadian Solar Industries Association.
“There’s over three gigawatts of solar energy in Canada at this point and the technology price of solar energy has come down drastically which is helping drive consumer demand,” he added.
Across the province, solar energy use has increased 300 per cent says the energy and mines minister Derek Mombourquette, as more than 500 families have added solar power generation to their homes and it’s anticipated that will grow even more, as government rebates are phased in and more contractors join the workforce.
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“We’re investing $16 million over four years, so our target is up to 2,000 homes will be part of the program and so we know that growth is going to be there,” said Mombourquette.
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Last year, there were 13 licensed solar installers working across the province, today there are 57 and it’s part of the growth of the emerging green economy and the work being done to reduce our carbon footprint.
In Nova Scotia renewable energies like wind and solar are being eyed to replace coal-burning power plants–Canada has set a 20-30 target to phase out coal. Nova Scotia is the most coal-dependent province in the country.
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“We can definitely phase out coal I believe by 2030, and I think we have a great opportunity to do that,” said Lyle Goldberg, policy and regulatory affairs manager with CanSIA.
“We’ve already got 18 per cent wind energy, we have less than one percent solar right now, and I think we have huge opportunities. We’re going to be over 40 per cent renewables next year as a result of the Maritime link coming in for water power.”
Combining renewables like wind and solar in Nova Scotia could be the way forward, to helping eliminate our reliance on the burning of fossil fuels says Christine Christie Chaplin Saunders, project manager with Solar Nova Scotia.
“Our wind generation tends to peak in the wintertime and tapers off in the summer when of course our solar generation will accelerate and peak,” said Chaplin Saunders.
Industry and policymakers agree solar energy has a bright future here in Nova Scotia, it’s possibilities are just on the horizon.