Old Sable gas pipeline route could be pathway for offshore wind electricity to N.S.
Company promoting floating wind turbines in Atlantic Canada says power cable could follow existing route
The decommissioned pipelines that once carried natural gas from Sable Island to mainland Nova Scotia are being considered as potential routes for the cable to carry electricity from offshore wind farms.
Simply Blue Group, an Irish company promoting floating wind turbines in Atlantic Canada, recently opened an office in Halifax. It is considering the former natural gas pipeline route as a cable pathway.
"It's too early to tell, but most likely a preferred option in the sense that that's a known area, it's been permitted, it's been used for a pipeline corridor already," said Canadian project manager Andrew Parsons.
"It seems to connect into the main wind resource areas. So certainly an area being explored."
Parsons was one of the speakers at a marine renewable conference in Halifax this week.
Other organizations are interested in the shallow Sable Island Bank to anchor wind turbines that would also use the pipeline footprint.
The pipelines were decommissioned after Exxon shuttered the Sable natural gas project in 2019 and EnCana shut in its Deep Panuke natural gas project near Sable Island in 2018.
Offshore wind is being pushed as a carbon-free source of energy in Atlantic Canada, largely for export, after being converted into hydrogen.
Electricity generated by offshore wind turbines would be carried ashore via cable, then fed through an electrolyzer to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Hydrogen can be stored or converted into "green ammonia" and used as zero-carbon fuel.
Andrew Parsons calls such a facility a refinery for renewable energy, but says his company has not settled on a site.
Bear Head Energy is vying to be a hydrogen energy hub for offshore wind on land near Port Hawkesbury, N.S., originally developed for a liquefied natural gas terminal.
"The community is very, very well acquainted with the operation of these types of facilities and really welcoming that," said Bear Head Energy chief operating officer Paul MacLean. "There is a strong, open for business attitude in the Strait region."
Development a few years away
Offshore wind development is still a few years away, but is edging closer to reality as Canada and Nova Scotia take the first step — overhauling the rules to permit projects.
Canada and Nova Scotia have reached a draft agreement to promote offshore wind development.
Public comments on the agreements close Nov. 26.
Nova Scotia's federal cabinet minister, Sean Fraser, says offshore wind is compatible with the fishery.
"If we work with the commercial fishery, we can establish a path forward that will allow us to capitalize on the offshore wind potential and still protect the interests of an industry that has sustained rural communities in this province since forever," he said.