As a result of the vast ocean swells that lap up against the shores of Nova Scotia, the Canadian province is thought to be sitting on a formidable source of renewable energy.
Now Nova Scotia’s government has signaled its commitment to harvesting its abundant ocean resources for power with the release of an energy strategy for the province that envisions some 300 megawatts (MW) of tidal power coming online in the next decade or so.
According to who you believe, more than 160 billion tons of water flow in and out of the Bay of Fundy, which has the Maine coast on one side and Nova Scotia on the other. That’s more than four times the combined flow of every freshwater river in the world, and the equivalent of 2,500 MW of tidal power. Other estimates put the amount of potential energy in the bay at more than triple that — as high as 8,000 MW.
According to the province’s government, the Marine Renewable Energy Strategy (MRES) [PDF] contains “broad policy, economic and legal conditions for renewable energy projects and technologies for commercial development in the province.” The government said it will help it move forward in developing this emerging energy sector.
The document was put together following consultation with interested parties, including the Mi’kmaq indigenous group whose tribal lands border the bay. The consultation process with the tribe was initiated last year and pertains to tidal energy projects in Digby County.
Talking about the MRES, Nova Scotia’s Energy Minister Charlie Parker said in a statement: “It represents a provincial commitment to cleaner and made-in-Nova Scotia energy solutions. It continues the careful approach we have already taken to explore the potential of tidal electricity in Nova Scotia.”
“The strategy will guide work related to in-stream tidal development. We have tapped into the expertise and knowledge of local experts to ensure it is implemented in a socially and environmentally responsible manner,” the minister added.
A host of international firms have been clamoring to trial tidal projects in the coastal waters of the bay.
U.K.-based Atlantis Resource Corporation, Open Hydro of Ireland and Alstom of France are just some of the company’s that have been allocated test bed locations in the bay. In July last year, Maine-based marine-energy company Ocean Renewable Power announced a planned project off Nova Scotia, expected to be completed this fall, which if it goes ahead will supply up to 2 MW of electricity to Digby County through the use of the TidGen Power System.
But Nova Scotia is aiming for much more than that. According to the new MRES, “A large in-stream tidal project with a capacity of 300 MW could replace approximately 10 per cent of Nova Scotia’s current power supply” — as much energy as is currently produced by one of the province’s coal-fired generators.
The MRES focuses on three main areas: research, development and regulatory planning. According to the government the regulation framework will ensure the interests of Nova Scotians are protected and the environmental impact is kept to a minimum. They said they were committed to providing opportunities to invent, design, test and develop the right technologies to harness the province’s marine renewable energy potential.
This latest report follows on from recommendations by Dalhousie University oceanographer Bob Fournier, who was commissioned last year to investigate marine power and recommended developing a provincial strategy and appropriate legislation.
Fournier said in a statement: “This plan, grounded in public consultation and thoughtful decision-making, is a roadmap that establishes goals, defines priorities and sets benchmarks against which Nova Scotians will be able to measure their progress. This is a useful and important document.”