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Nova Scotia ends 'must-run' regulation for biomass plant

The Nova Scotia government is ending a legal requirement to operate a biomass plant based in Port Hawkesbury as a must-run facility.

In a statement, the Nova Scotia government said it introduced the new rules due to concerns expressed from the local community about the "use of primary forest biomass for electricity".

Under the terms of these new regulations, the number of new trees being cut down in the Canadian province will reduce.

The government also said that it amended the regulation "to allow for more flexibility in managing the electricity system".

The biomass plant, operated by electricity firm Nova Scotia Power, launched in 2013.

According to Nova Scotia Power, the plant uses as much as 2,000 tonnes of biomass per day, producing up to 4% of the province's overall electricity. It has a 60MW capacity and the ability to power 50,000 homes.
Environmental groups have criticised the company's use of feedstock for the plant, claiming that it is not "clean energy".

As a consequence of the new rules, the Nova Scotia biomass plant will no longer run 24 hours, seven days a week.

The regulation enforcing a 'must-run' requirement was established in 2013.

A must-run electricity generation plant must produce as much electricity as it can, all the time.

According to the Nova Scotia government, the biomass facility helped the province meet its 2015 legislated target of generating at least 25% of its electricity from renewable sources.

Commenting about changes to the old rules, Nova Scotia's Energy Minister, Michel Samson said: "These regulations placed unnecessary constraints on optimum electricity system planning and management.

"Today, more flexibility is possible, and needed, to produce electricity as economically possible."

The regulation change allows Nova Scotia Power to include renewable electricity generated from approved community feed-in tariff (COMFIT), according to the government.

The government said: "While biomass can be useful and reliable, it has also proven, with current energy prices, to be one of the more expensive energy sources.

"Moving forward, Nova Scotia Power must continue to meet renewable targets, but will have greater flexibility in doing so. The biomass plant will remain available to generate electricity only when it is economical to do so or when needed for reliability."