Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, has introduced a new bill in the House of Commons which will put in place regulations that will enable offshore wind development in the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.
On 30 May, the minister, in partnership with the governments of the two provinces, introduced amendments to expand the mandates of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Accord Implementation Act and set the legislative framework for offshore renewable energy.
In a press release announcing the new bill, the Canadian government said the legislative framework for offshore renewable energy would enable Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia to capitalise on their existing strengths and accelerate offshore wind development off Canada’s East Coast.
“The amendments to the Accord Acts are a necessary step in enabling Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia to effectively pursue the economic opportunity presented by offshore renewable energy generation and associated opportunities, including hydrogen production”, said Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources.
The amendment process will run parallel to the recently launched regional assessments of offshore wind development in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, an analysis regarding future offshore wind development activities that will be regulated under the proposed amended Accord Acts.
The main purpose of regional assessments is to contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of future impact assessments of projects that are subject to the Impact Assessment Act (IAA).
The amendments come a year after the governments of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia announced they were looking into expanding the mandates of the two provinces’ Offshore Petroleum Boards to include the regulation on offshore renewable energy projects.
The new bill (Bill C-49) will facilitate that and rename the boards to reflect their new mandates: the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board will become the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Regulator (CNSOER), and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board will change its name to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Energy Regulator (C-NLOER).
The bill also seeks to improve alignment between the two federal-provincial Accord Acts and the Impact Assessment Act, and to establish new authorities to support the Government of Canada’s marine conservation agenda.
“The CNSOPB looks forward to becoming the life-cycle regulator of the offshore renewable energy industry. Our organization is well positioned to regulate this new sector and remains committed to ensure that offshore energy developers take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers and the environment. We support these government-led amendments and will continue to engage with Indigenous communities, the fishing industry, other stakeholders and the public while working with our regulatory partners”, said Christine Bonnell-Eisnor, CEO at Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOB).
The Canadian government says the new amendments to Accord Acts will also support the development of renewable energy and electrification, which are key priorities identified through the Regional Energy and Resource Tables processes currently underway in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
“They will also enable Canada to make good on its commitments — such as those made last summer to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — to supply its allies with reliable, clean power in the years to come”, the government states in its press release.
Last year, Canada and Germany committed to collaborate on promoting green economy and joined forces on broader energy cooperation. Among other things, the two countries also signed a Joint Declaration of Intent to establish the Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance, an agreement to enable Canada to export green hydrogen to Germany by 2025.
With regard to offshore wind, Nova Scotia has already set its own capacity target. Last year, the province announced the decision to offer leases for 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, starting in 2025, with an ultimate aim to support green hydrogen production.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian government awarded funding to a project using floating wind turbines to power oil and gas assets back in 2021, among several other selected projects that were deemed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the province’s offshore oil and gas operations.