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MODG to lead offshore wind delegation to the UK

Fact-seeking mission believed to be a first for a NS municipality

  • December 27 2023
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

GUYSBOROUGH — Keen to understand the full potential of a pivotal new industry for Nova Scotia, Municipality of District of Guysborough (MODG) officials will lead a high-level federal, provincial and local industry delegation to the massive wind farms of northern England and Scotland next month.

MODG Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll — who thinks this may be the first time a Nova Scotia municipality has taken the reigns of such a multi-party endeavour – is unequivocal about the significance for Guysborough, which is becoming the sharp end of the spear for offshore wind development in the province.

“It’s a big deal – fully our idea, our delegation,” he told The Journal in an interview last week. “We can be the epicentre for offshore wind in Nova Scotia.”

The 12-person mission – which has been in the works for weeks and is slated to include representatives from the municipality, provincial government, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Strait of Canso Offshore Wind Task Force, among others – will spend from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where they’ll talk to developers and stakeholders about the business of building the industry from the ground up.

“They’re years ahead of where we are now,” Carroll said. “We’re going to be visiting with the developers of some of the wind farms that are happening now, that are being built. We’re also going to be talking with some of the associated industries – from not-for-profit to private corporations and ports. A big objective of ours is to look at the ports that are servicing offshore wind there, to look at all the infrastructure required to put all that place.”

The timing, he said, is right. Last week, the provincial government released its Green Hydrogen Energy Plan. According to a statement from the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables on Dec. 15, the province has “set a target to offer seabed leases for five gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 ... to help spur development ... in alignment with [our] climate change goals, [supporting] both domestic use and export of green hydrogen focused on safety, a strong and skilled workforce, research and innovation, and opportunities for public engagement.”

The province is working with the federal government on a comprehensive regional assessment of the industry’s potential – a process that started with extensive public consultations in Guysborough in early October and has since traveled to several Nova Scotia communities, including Sydney, Port Hawkesbury, Inverness, Digby, Yarmouth and Shelburne.

Said Carroll: “We think there are lots of opportunities for Guysborough and the whole Strait area... [especially] tied into the hydrogen and ammonia industry, which will need power.”

Mission delegate Ginny Boudreau, manager of the Guysborough County Inshore Fishermen’s Association, agreed.

“The organizers have put together a very good agenda [and] we should get answers to some community and industry questions,” she said. “There’s a Scottish fishermen’s federation [who we’ll] meet. There will be a few tours of facilities. It’s a really good start to get some baseline information on this industry, which is new for us.”

Boudreau – who has been critical of provincial suggestions that the inner Chedabucto Bay might serve as a platform for wind turbines – added: “I think, as long as this is done properly, with the most concern that they can possibly have for our marine environment, then, I see this as a good thing. Harvesters and the fishing industry are not against offshore wind development. We see the need. We need it as much as anyone else. But, we don’t feel that it should be at the cost of our marine environment and of existing industry.”

MODG council has approved an expenditure of $35,000 to defray some of the municipality’s costs.

“We did receive some funding from other levels of government early on in the process – to support some of the objectives that we are putting forth on offshore wind,” Carroll said. “Some of the money will come from there and the rest will come from MODG. All the other delegates are responsible for their own expenses.”

He added: “We don’t go on many of these trips, but sometimes they help you avoid mistakes that others have made. That’s what this is about; it’s a fact-seeking mission to become fully educated, and learn from the lessons of others.”