Port Saint John Embracing Renewable Energy Growth

Clean energy is big business, and it’s booming. In Canada alone, the sector employs nearly 300,000 and is growing in value by 4.8% annually– that’s one third faster than the country’s economy as a whole. In other words, this is a sector filled with significant opportunity for not only the Port, but also our communities.

Large-scale renewable energy projects, like tidal turbines, and on and offshore wind continue to flourish around the globe. Over the past 10 years, Port Saint John has worked to attract these projects and more specifically, their cargo, to our piers. Our geography, skilled labour and facility capabilities will continue to benefit our Port as we facilitate trade of clean energy to North America’s Eastern Seaboard.

As nations race to reduce their carbon footprint, the renewable energy sector is providing tangible, sustainable energy solutions that will stimulate economies and power communities. Advancements in wind power have seen solo onshore wind turbines generating enough energy to power roughly 900 homes. Offshore wind turbines, either secured to the ocean floor or floating, can power approximately 2600 homes by themselves, or over 50,000 as an offshore wind farm.

Also developing steadily is the tidal turbine industry. In Atlantic Canada, developers continue to work toward turbines that will most efficiently harness the 160 billion tonnes of seawater surging in and out of the Bay of Fundy with each tide. “Geographically, we’re the closest Port with infrastructure in place to support the developers at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) site,” says Shannon Blanchard, Cargo Development Manager at Port Saint John. “We are encouraged by the potential opportunities arising from the tidal energy research, technology development and testing we are seeing in Parrsboro.”

These solutions are serving up significant economic benefits in addition to their environmental upsides. The projects’ extended timeframes could mean sustainable business for the Port, both in the short and long term, and would have a ripple effect for our stakeholders in transportation, logistics, labour and beyond.

Project cargos like wind and tidal turbine components require very specific and well-equipped port infrastructure for handling. For example, a fully assembled wind tower stands near 800 feet tall, which is longer than two football fields. “Our port is ideally equipped for project cargo because of our versatile infrastructure and geographic positioning to the projects. We have multiple, large open areas for cargo marshalling and heavy-lift capacity on our piers,” says Blanchard. “In addition, we have a unique 24,000 square foot modular fabrication facility and adjoining 120,000 square foot shed for project-related manufacturing and storage needs located pier side.”

Many opportunities lay ahead in clean energy, particularly South of the border where more than $70 billion is expected to be invested over the next decade in offshore wind. Through trade missions, trade shows and speaking engagements, Blanchard is ensuring our capabilities are known by our American neighbours.

At home, renewable energy projects are on the immediate horizon. New Brunswick is targeting a 65% reduction in the province’s carbon emissions by 2021. Nova Scotia’s carbon-based sources represent 65% of the province’s total energy sources, down from 90% a few years prior. Prince Edward Island is leading the charge with 99% of the province’s power being derived from clean sources. Port Saint John has played a role in getting a handful of onshore wind energy components to their destination already.

This cargo sector jives with the values and targets Port Saint John embodies daily. As a proud, certified member of Green Marine, we’re constantly striving to reduce and neutralize our carbon footprint. “We’re in the early stages of new partnerships that could see the establishment of renewable energies on Port property,” says Blanchard.

On January 14th, Port Saint John co-hosted an information session on marine renewable opportunities for both offshore and tidal power with Marine Renewables Canada.