PEI

P.E.I. needs incentives for renewable energy use, says professor

An engineering professor at UPEI has some ideas to help the province get more of its electricity from renewable sources.

'Timing of when we use electricity' is important, says Matthew Hall

An engineering professor at UPEI has some ideas to help the province get more of its electricity from renewable sources.

Matthew Hall says P.E.I.'s climate change action plan, released in May, covers a lot of important things. But he said it leaves others out.

"P.E.I.'s really unique in terms of our electricity system. About 40 per cent of our electricity use is met by wind power, which is much higher than any other province," Hall told Kerry Campbell of CBC News: Compass.

'Incentive for people to use power'

But sometimes there are wind shortages and power is brought in from New Brunswick, so the timing of electricity use is important, Hall said.

"There are times when all our power comes from wind. There are times when none of it comes from wind," he said.

"The timing of when we use electricity has a big effect on how low-carbon our electricity supply is.

"That depends on things like smart grid technology and the right policies for things like real-time pricing or some kind of incentive for people to use power."

Solar panel rebate in N.S.

Summerside is a good example, he said, as up to 50 per cent of its electricity is supplied by wind power. 

"P.E.I. as a whole, we don't really have any mechanism yet for that incentive based on timing."

The Wind Energy Institute of P.E.I. generates and sells power from five 10-megawatt turbines in North Cape. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

He pointed to Nova Scotia's new program that gives people a rebate of a dollar per watt if they install solar panels.

"I think something like that here could really bring the shift towards more of a balance between wind and solar."

Wind and solar energy

Hall and engineering colleague Andrew Swingler have done some work investigating whether P.E.I. could have 100 per cent renewable energy.

"What we see is if we combine roughly equal proportions of wind and solar, they start to balance each other out. That actually means we have a smoother renewable power supply if there's more solar in the mix."

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With files from Kerry Campbell