Cumberland County has a variety of renewable energy opportunities, from wind power, tidal power, solar power, and geothermal energy. Each of these renewable energy resources has immense potential for both community and economic development for our region, and to be industry leaders in the harnessing of these various energies.
Major renewable energy opportunities in Cumberland County include:
The movement of water during the tidal process can contain large amounts of energy. Like wind energy, power can be generated by capturing the kinetic energy of tidal waters using subsea (instream) turbines that can convert the kinetic energy into electricity. Unlike wind energy, tidal energy is predictable and practically inexhaustible. Tides are created from forces generated by the gravitational interaction of the moon and sun, combined with the earth’s rotation. The magnitude of the tide at any given location is the result of the changing positions of the moon and sun relative to the earth, the effects of earth rotation, and the local shape of the seafloor and coastlines. The stronger tide, either in water-level height or tidal current velocities, the greater the potential for tidal energy generation.
To learn more about upcoming tidal energy projects and initiatives in Cumberland County, please visit Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.
Geothermal energy, or earth energy, is energy extracted from the natural heat stored in the earth’s core from radioactive decay of minerals as well as from energy absorbed from the sun at the surface. It can be harvested from either ground source or mine source systems and can help meet local energy needs; in instances of high water temperatures, geothermal energy can be used to generate electricity.
Geothermal energy can be tapped from old, flooded mine workings. Systems can be designed for either shallow mine or deep mine systems. In shallow mine systems, warm water from the mine is pumped to the surface where heat energy is extracted via a heat pump. The cooled water is usually discharged back into the mine. In deep mine water systems, hot water from deep below the earth’s surface is pumped to the surface where it can be used to generate electricity in a steam-turbine before it is reinjected into the mines.
A number of organizations in Springhill, Nova Scotia extract geothermal energy from the flooded mine workings. The Springhill mine water geothermal systems pump water at temperatures as high as 21 °C to the surface, circulate the water through heat pumps where most of the heat energy is removed, and then reinject the water into the mines.
To date, the Cumberland Energy Authority has completed Phase 1, “Former Springhill Mine Geothermal Resource: A Review of Previous Studies, Current Uses and Available Field Data”, in conjunction with the Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment at Cape Breton University.
The Energy Authority is currently partnering with EfficiencyOne to develop an energy use study. The aim of this partnership is to seek technical assistance to analyze the energy and cost savings realized from the use of geothermal energy in Springhill, Nova Scotia. The study includes an energy audit of five participating facilities, to identify further potential energy cost saving opportunities. The new partnership initiates the Phase 2 Geothermal Study in hopes of better understanding the geothermal resource potential within the former Springhill mines.
Phase 3 will include a GIS Analysis and deep mine water exploration project.
Partnership Geothermal GIS and Technical Study
GIS work has been conducted on the former mine workings and in relation to the ground surface in Springhill. However, the Verschuren Centre of Cape Breton University recommended that work to date be reviewed by technical experts with experience using GIS in mining systems. In addition, the budget provides for other technical assessments and historical data reviews, leading to the optimization of potential future geothermal well locations, more accurate water volume estimates and temperature determination and 3-D modelling to assess water flow conditions. This study will provide accurate geographical and other technical information for future development planning.
Geothermal Exploration Program
Geothermal systems have been operating in some Springhill businesses for up to 26 years. These open loop well systems are located within the shallow workings of several mine seams. Exploring the deeper recesses of the former mine will assess mine water temperature and quality in the deeper workings, allowing for more accurate estimates of geothermal capacity, water flow characteristics and potential impacts from external operations such as potential surface coal recovery operations. Higher temperatures and acceptable mine water quality are likely to be more attractive for investment in future development. This component will be completed in conjunction with the previous Geothermal and Technical Study.
Wind is another renewable resource from which clean energy can be generated. Wind turbines capture the wind’s kinetic energy and convert it to electricity. The amount of power that can be harnessed from wind depends on wind speed but also on altitude and the presence of predominate surface features. Areas where winds are stronger and more constant, such as offshore and high-altitudes, are preferred locations for wind farms, however successful wind turbines have been sighted inland and good wind regimes, proximity and access to power grids, and appreciate setbacks from communities and ecologically-sensitive areas.
Despite its variable nature, one of the merits of wind power is the fact that power output of a wind turbine is a function of the cube of the wind speed. Thus, as wind speed increases, the power output of the wind turbine increases dramatically. There are various wind turbine designs available to suit specific deployment scenarios. Turbines can be installed in arrays or wind farms to produce large qualities of power which can be sold to utilities, or smaller installations can be designed to provide electricity to meet local needs.
The sun’s energy can be captured by either active or passive methods. The difference lies on the way that the energy is captured and distributed. Building design is the cornerstone of passive systems with significant consideration given to building orientation, window to wall ratios, and other methods that maximize the natural solar gain into the building. In active systems, various technologies are used to capture the sun’s energy and transfer that energy to a fluid (solar collectors) or to convert it to electricity (Solar PV). Solar energy can be used for space heating, domestic water heating, industrial processes, or to meet electricity needs.