The energy sector transformation: New Brunswick will need sharp elbows
A couple of announcements recently indicate just how difficult it will be for New Brunswick to attract large scale investment in next generation energy such as SMRs, hydrogen, etc. A large Australian firm struck deals with three First Nations to pursue mega hydrogen projects - not long term - these projects will start in the mid 2020s if they go ahead. None of the First Nations are in New Brunswick. Now, from the G&M write up it looks like they are looking to use hydroelectricity to produce green hydrogen so maybe there were technical reasons why the idea couldn’t work in NB but given the talk around hydrogen these days as an export opportunity, I was disappointed.
Then there was the SMR supplier in Ontario - GE Hitachi. Again, I’m not suggesting that Arc or Moltex were viable alternatives but….
I’d like to think we have a possible ace in the whole. Irving Oil could end up becoming a large scale investor in clean/green energy for export. It’s fair to say the refinery will be churning out refined oil products for many years to come but there will be a ‘next’ and when it comes to billion dollar investments there is almost always a long time horizon.
New Brunswick generates a larger share of GDP from energy than any other province with the exception of the oil and gas producing provinces.
If we end up importing all our electricity from Quebec, if the refinery closes and there are no other new energy projects with the exception of imports-intensive wind/solar - we could end up losing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of GDP each year.
I, for one, would like us to have a little ambition but a small province - might need sharper elbows.