Invest in Cape Breton: Strong Winds Driving Growth to the Strait of CansoDecember 4, 2023

Produced by Michelle Samson, Storied Places Media

Unama’ki-Cape Breton has always been windy, but something has shifted in the last couple years. Now the same wind that blows our patio furniture away is being called ‘world class’ and ‘a nation-building opportunity’. 

In the third episode of the Invest in Cape Breton podcast, sponsored by Bear Head Energy, we hear from four government and corporate leaders who are optimistic that the offshore wind and green energy projects already underway in the Strait of Canso are going to be transformative not just for the Strait Area, not just for Unama’ki-Cape Breton, and not just the province of Nova Scotia. This is going to be as big as the railway.

Our guests are:

  • Amanda Momourquette, Co-Chair of the Strait of Canso Offshore Wind Task Force and the Warden of Richmond County 
  • Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, Co-Chair of the Strait of Canso Offshore Wind Task Force and the Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury
  • Carlos Martin, CEO, BlueFloat Energy
  • Peter Murphy, Contract Manager, Svitzer Canada

Listen now, or read on for a few highlights.

The Strait of Canso Has Impressive Industrial Assets and Welcomes Growth

For those unfamiliar with the Strait of Canso, it’s the waterbody that divides the island of Unama’ki-Cape Breton from mainland Nova Scotia. The two sides are connected not by a bridge but by the Canso Causeway, the construction of which unintentionally created the world’s deepest ice-free port. The Strait Area ran with this opportunity and now boasts a multimodal hub that can accommodate the world’s largest vessels plus transloading to rail, trucking, and air carriers.

The port has drawn large companies including, but not limited to, long-time corporate residents Port Hawkesbury Paper, Martin Marietta and Nova Scotia Power as well as newer players in offshore wind and green energy like EverWind Fuels and Bear Head Energy. However, there room to grow with more serviced industrial land available and a pro-growth culture among the local governments and residents. 

Nova Scotia Has World-Class Winds

Nova Scotia has one of the best offshore wind regimes in the world. Six to seven meters per second is considered good, but Nova Scotia offers ten to eleven meters per second. The additional speed means more power, which means the companies building offshore wind infrastructure get more return on their investment. There’s enough energy in this resource to power Nova Scotia and still have enough to export.

Once they were made aware of the facts, local governments quickly recognized the opportunity to develop a new industry that is green, clean, and sustainable. Since developing a new industry is a major undertaking, the Strait of Canso Offshore Wind Task Force was formed to bring together all the stakeholders and rights holders. It has 30 signatories including all levels of government, First Nations communities, fishers, and other industry supply chain businesses. They’re also working to engage and educate residents.

Private Sector Companies Are Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

Millions of dollars have already been invested in the Strait Area to develop this local offshore wind and green energy industry. 

EverWind and Bear Head are far enough along that they’ve received their environmental assessment approvals from the province and are signing contracts with supply chain businesses like Svitzer Canada. 

BlueFloat Energy, a developer that specializes entirely in offshore wind, is here with the intention to set up the offshore wind industry in Canada and complete its first project by 2030. The company has boots on the ground and is deep into their engagement efforts. Listen to the episode to hear CEO Carlos Martin summarize what they’ve heard so far and what they plan to do with the feedback.

Subscribe to the Invest in Cape Breton podcast

In Episode 4 we’re tackling a very hot topic: housing and development. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe or follow now on your favourite podcast platform.