By 2018, Nova Scotia’s goal is to produce 40% of their provincial energy output from renewable sources (Nova Scotia Department of Energy, 2013). Currently the theoretical potential of wind implementation in Nova Scotia is vast due to the amount and access of wind as a natural resource due to its geographic location in between the Bay of Fundy and Atlantic Ocean. Recent innovations in technology have made it possible for power generation from wind turbines to occur at wind speeds as low as 3m/s (Vestas, 2017). It is at this threshold in which wind speeds below 3m/s will not be able to spin the turbine to produce electricity (Nova Scotia Wind Energy Fact Sheet, 2015). The ideal wind speed for energy production is around 12m/s and it is also at this speed in which speeds above this point will not increase the power output (Nova Scotia Wind Energy Fact Sheet, 2015). At speeds around 25m/s the turbine will shut down and stop itself from spinning known as the cut out wind speed (Nova Scotia Wind Energy Fact Sheet, 2015). In Nova Scotia the wind speed ranges from about 0-15m/s (Colville, 2017), making it an ideal location for wind farm development. Although the natural resource is present, there are still barriers to implementation within each study area. The study areas within the municipalities of Kings County, West Hants County and Annapolis County are situated in the Southwestern part of Nova Scotia. All three counties are adjacent to one another and are located along the Bay of Fundy Coast (Figure 1). The wind speed averages in each county falls under the ideal range in order to theoretical produce electricity with average wind speeds ranging from 0-10m/s. Due to the counties being found in relatively similar geographic locations they share comparable land covers such as amount of agricultural land and wetlands. They also share similar land use identities such as Provincial parks and airports but they differ in terms of policy and regulations that can dictate the amount of land suitable for wind farm implementation.
Figure 1. Nova Scotia basemap with study areas.
General legislation about the implementation of wind energy is outlined within each county’s land use bylaws, such as setback distances from roads and dwellings (Table 1). It is these differences in policies and regulations that determine constraints and criteria, which dictates the amount of suitable land in each county. Since a different municipality governs all these counties, the approach taken in this study is focused on a single county level in which the policy or regulations in one county are independent from the other counties. The differing constraints and criteria that are determined from policy and regulation will determine the amount of suitable land to be compared to create a standardization of wind turbine implementation to be used on a larger scale.
Annapolis County offers governmental documents, created at the municipal level, that outline the rules and regulations that must be followed when determining a site for wind turbine implementation. For example, the minimum setback distance for the large-scale wind turbine from all property boundaries shall be one half the rotor diameter plus one metre (3.28 ft.) (Municipality of the County of Annapolis, 2012). The municipality of Annapolis encompasses the Hampton Hills Wind Resource Zone, which is a proposed area for a wind turbine farm. This is a promising development because it shows that wind farms are becoming a more prevalent part of the landscape (Municipality of the County of Annapolis, 2012) (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Annapolis County study site map.
Kings County is the fourth smallest county located in Nova Scotia and located in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which encounters frequent gusts of winds coming inland from the Bay of Fundy. With an abundance of wind energy coming off the bay, Kings County is becoming an ideal location for wind farm development in Nova Scotia. In 2011, Kings County Municipality adopted regulations for development of large-scale wind turbines that include a minimum 700m separations between turbines and neighbourhood dwellings (Municipality of the County of Kings, 2012). The municipality still wants to investigate the impacts of large-scale wind farm development and in 2015; council held a meeting that discussed proposed regulations for future large-scale wind turbines in Kings County (Starrat, 2015). Residential stakeholders were not satisfied with the updated regulations as they felt the setback distances from dwellings did not ensure protection for homeowners because they do not meet the 2.5km buffer distance from residential dwellings (Starrat, 2015). While the energy potential in Kings County is vast, the constraints and criteria surrounding the implementation of wind development is conflicting residential stakeholders (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Kings County study site map.
West Hants County:
West Hants is actually made up of a larger county known as Hants and is broken up into East and West, which are governed under different legislation. West Hants is smaller in comparison to East Hants but it is situated adjacent to Kings County, along the Bay of Fundy (Figure 4). The goals underlain in the West Hants municipal planning strategy outline that currently only small scale wind turbines are allowed as large scale wind turbines are stricly for experimental purposes and must be de-commissioned after 1 year (West Hants Municipal Planning Strategy, 2016). The Municipality of West Hants encourages dense development of wind farms in areas where the wind farm will not induce strain, such as industrial areas. This encouragement is seen through there relaxed policy, in which the only constraint is a minimum buffer of 120m away from habitable buildings and there is no mention of a required buffer from roadways/public rights of way.
Figure 4. West Hants County study site map.