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Moe Qureshi is the director of climate research and policy at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. Image: LinkedIn

Conservation Council welcomes provincial energy strategy

By Brad Perry Dec 14, 2023 | 5:33 PM

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is welcoming the release of a provincial energy strategy.

Provincial officials said the 12-year strategy, released Wednesday, describes how the province is going to address the changing energy market.

Moe Qureshi, director of climate research and policy, said one of the highlights he sees is the push for more wind and solar energy.

“Seeing 1,400 megawatts of new wind and around 500 megawatts of grid-scale and behind-the-meter solar power by 2035, that big push for renewable is appreciated,” Qureshi said in an interview.

Qureshi is also pleased to see regional transmission upgrades between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to enhance interconnectivity.

However, he said there should be more discussion about increasing interregional transmission, noting New Brunswick could be a clean energy trading hub if it is well-connected to Atlantic Canada, Quebec and New England.

RELATED: N.B. releases long-awaited energy strategy

While there are several positive highlights, Qureshi said several areas of the plan raise concern, including the fact that fracking is not entirely off the table.

“Even though they didn’t specifically say that they’re going to build more, they were very clear that the international community wants some natural gas in Europe and that it could come from New Brunswick,” he said.

“We should not be building any new unabated gas plants for local or international purposes. It’s a technology of the past.”

The council is also concerned about plans to convert New Brunswick’s last coal-fired plant in Belledune to biomass.

Qureshi said burning wood simply replaced one carbon-emitting fuel with another. He thinks the plant could be powered through a combination of solar and wind energy, as well as battery storage.

The group is also questioning the sustainability and economics of exporting hydrogen. Instead, it said the province should focus on green hydrogen for local industrial use while avoiding pink, blue or grey hydrogen.

Qureshi said they are also disappointed the strategy does not include any discussion about modernizing the distribution of electricity within the province.