By James Noble
May 7, 2015
The Provincial government of Nova Scotia recently introduced legislation to establish a framework for governing tidal power development in the province.
The legislation identifies priority marine renewable areas within the Bay of Fundy and Vras d’Or Lake. Marine Renewable Energy Areas (MREAs) will be established where development can take place after extensive identification of resource potential, environmental consideration and public consultation.
The act would not permit marine renewable energy near aquaculture operations, and protection for fisheries and endangered marine life is built into the planning and operational stages to help minimize any conflicts.
Four companies already awarded berths at a test site in the Minas Channel will be grandfathered under the legislation, and a fifth company, Ireland-based DP Energy, would be grandfathered if its application is approved before the end of the year.
One of those companies, OpenHydro Technology Canada, first installed 12 tidal turbine rotor blades five years ago on the floor of the Minas Passage as a test. On the heels of receiving $6.35 million from the federal government, OpenHydro is preparing for another test this fall and is set to drop two 14-meter-diameter turbines into the Minas Channel.
By some estimates, over the next 25 years the tidal energy industry could contribute up to $1.7 billion to Nova Scotia’s gross domestic product and create up to 22,000 full-time jobs.
Although not widely used, tidal power has tremendous potential, as tides are more predictable than wind energy and solar power. Among sources of renewable energy, tidal power has traditionally suffered from high costs and the limited availability of sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges and flow velocities.
Despite these challenges, however, public funding for tidal power has increased in a number of countries. China has invested over $128 million supporting over 90 marine energy projects, the United States has increased support to $41.3 million in 2014, and Canada has deployed about $50 million to marine power over the past five years.
Canada’s marine energy potential is well placed to compete on the international stage, with many base industries in marine engineering and related sectors co-located close to the best global resources. However, large-scale deployment of ocean energy in Canada and throughout the rest of the world will depend on the sector’s ability to address technological and economic challenges.