July 23, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Will New Brunswick run out of power in the winter?

Will New Brunswick run out of power in the winter?

New Brunswick reaches record electricity consumption in 2023. As energy demand is expected to increase in the coming years, experts predict that generation capacity will be tested on weak days. It is very cold in winter.

On February 4, many parts of New Brunswick experienced unprecedented cold. In Moncton, the mercury dropped to -28.1°C, breaking a more than 100-year-old record.

The cold snap of February 2023 caused significant power outages across New Brunswick. (archive photo)

Photo: CBC / Shane Fowler

On this Saturday in February, a record was also broken in power consumption, with peak demand reaching 3,442 MW, breaking a nearly 20-year-old record.

On that day, NB Power’s generation capacity was almost exceeded.

A situation to be repeated

Estimates from the state corporation indicate that energy requirements will increase in the coming years.

In the spring, a NB Power representative explained to a committee of MPs that it was responsible for population and economic growth.

This is a trendChief Nuclear Engineer said Andy Hayward. We regularly set peak demand records in the future.

That’s why Fredericton is taking steps to ensure the province’s energy security.

Mike Holland at the press scrum.

Minister Mike Holland said February’s cold snap had created an emergency situation that could have a significant impact on NB Power customers. (archive photo)

Photo: Radio-Canada / Michelle Corriveau

Minister of Natural Resources and Energy Development, Mike HollandA bill was recently introduced that aims to ban the sale of electricity to cryptocurrency farming projects, which is very powerful.

At the time of introducing this program, the Minister Holland They say we are very close to winter in February We are not even able to put up lights with the electricity we have.

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For Yves Gagnon, professor of engineering at the University of Moncton, the minister’s announcement was sensational because it If the peak demand exceeds the province’s internal generation capacity then there will be power shortage in the entire province.

emergency situation

In fact, the reality is a little more complicated than what the minister describes Holland.

Before citizens are able to light or heat their homes during extreme cold, NB Power implements a series of measures aimed at increasing the amount of electricity it provides on its network.

Among the measures, fuel exports outside the province have been halted. When domestic electricity demand exceeds supply, New Brunswick can also buy power from its neighbours.

In February, however, this is impossible Quebec was unable to provide us with energy due to extremely cold temperatures, which led to high demand for electricity in the province, NB Power spokesman Dominic Couture said in an email.

Load shedding of industrial users

February’s cold snap pushed the province’s production capacity to its limits. NB Power was forced to launch an emergency process aimed at reducing the consumption of the province’s most energy-intensive industrial customers.

Even though this type of scenario has never happened, it won’t take long for NB Power to implement controlled power outages in New Brunswick homes either.

In February, it was a very serious situation and we were very close to customer load shedding.

According to NB Power, these measures are unlikely to be interpreted as a last resort only in the event Very urgent, will be executed one day. However, these are Distributed in a way that minimizes impact on users while ensuring network stability.

Bad plan

According to Simon Langlois-Bertrand, a research fellow at the Trottier Energy Institute, the problem of planning is that production is close to the capacity limit during periods of high demand.

This was one of the conclusions of a strategic analysis of the electricity sector in central and eastern Canada that he contributed to.

We find ourselves in 2023 and we don’t have enough electricity in February, which shows how much we missed the boat on this planning, we have a lot to do.

Yves Gagnon, who specializes in renewable energy, doesn’t mince his words. situation Once again NB shows enthusiasm in the energy sector.

The situation is more critical as the electrification of transport and economy will significantly increase the demand for electricity in the province.

Yves Gagnon.

Yves Gagnon, an engineering professor at the University of Moncton and an expert in renewable energies, believes NB is under-exploiting green electricity.

Photo: Radio-Canada

To combat this, Yves Gagnon is specifically calling for greater interconnection of New Brunswick with its neighbors to facilitate electricity sharing. Measures should also be taken to reduce demand.

New Brunswick must increase its energy efficiency and put demand management mechanisms in placeAnalyzes prof., including intelligent network formation.

He cited the example of Japan, where residential hot water is heated at night during periods of low demand.

Energy efficiency

NB Power ensures that it is stepping up its efforts to reduce residential consumption of electricity, which represents about 40% of demand in the province, through several energy efficiency initiatives. Similar actions are taking place between businesses and industries.

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NB Power’s Integrated Resources Plan, published 2023, addresses several of these challenges and proposes solutions to overcome them.

Larry HughesA professor at Dalhousie University, who is interested in energy security, says it should have thought about it much earlier and the province seems to be doing it now. Poorly prepared.

The problem is that the professor fears that the situation of February 2023 will be reproduced several times before the energy efficiency of a large enough number of households can be improved to reduce energy demand.

A heat pump.

Heat pumps are presented as an alternative to oil heating.

Photo: Getty Images/StockPhoto

Increasing power generation capacity could also be part of the solution, he said, but this is also a long-term solution.

It’s a question of time and scaleSaid Larry Hughes. We need to be able to act quickly and on a large enough scale for the impact to be significant, but this will take a long time.

Simon Langlois-Bertrand made the same observation. Until New Brunswick succeeds in reducing its demand or increasing its green energy production capacity, it will have to resign itself to not using certain pollutants.

Obviously, these are efforts that must be made, but if we are talking about short-term solutions, I am not sure that it will be possible to provide the energy we need in the coming years.He said the solutions implemented today cannot compensate for problems caused by poor planning.

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