Proposed amendments to Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable-energy Act could further marine energy development

The government of Nova Scotia, Canada, is attempting to amend its Marine Renewable-energy Act to make it easier to assess tidal energy technologies and help developers commercialize the marine energy industry.

The first reading of the amendments, which are sponsored by Nova Scotia Minister of Energy, Geoff MacLellan, took place today in Nova Scotia. If passed, no more than 10 MW of total power will be authorized under the amendments and operators are still required to have all applicable permits and environmental approvals.

It is believed the amendments will accommodate small marine energy projects being developed at Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE), located in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. FORCE also oversees an independently reviewed environmental monitoring in the Minas Passage.

Without specifically naming FORCE, a press release from the government of Nova Scotia said the amendments will allow demonstration permits for tidal projects of up to 5 MW and allow companies to sell the electricity they generate at a lower price than existing tidal feed-in-tariffs.

“Technology in this industry is evolving rapidly, and if we don’t adapt we risk being left behind,” MacLellan said. “By taking this next step, Nova Scotia remains a world leader in developing clean, renewable [marine] energy in a way that protects the environment, creates opportunities in rural communities and keeps power rates stable.

In April, the Halifax Supreme Court dismissed a challenge filed by the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fisherman’s Association to Cape Sharp Tidal Venture Ltd.’s deployment of two, 2-MW tidal energy turbines at FORCE.

At issue was the tidal energy research project’s monitoring program, which was approved by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment in June 2016. Approval of the monitoring program granted the installation of Cape Sharp Tidal turbines at FORCE.

In July 2016, HydroWorld.com reported Minas Energy entered into a partnership with International Marine Energy Inc. and Tocardo, using Tocardo’s tidal turbines. The new collaboration, Minas Tidal LP, was established to test Tocardo technology at FORCE in the Minas Passage.

The collaboration will allow an upscaling of engineering activities within Tocardo to deploy its Universal Foundation System (UFS) in late 2018. Tocardo’s UFS is designed to be a floating platform holding five 300-kW rated T2 bi-directional turbines combined to produce 1.5 MW of marine energy for near shore, open-water tidal generation locations.

If the amendments are voted in to law, with the consent of the Natural Resources Minister, the energy minister will be able to issue permits for up to five years. The permits can be renewed for up to five years, but not longer than a total of 18 years.

This means, in the case of UFS if deployed next year, the project could be consented through 2036.

In February 2016, researchers at FORCE deployed a new underwater monitoring platform in the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Passage.

The platform, called FAST-3, is the third built by FORCE and is designed to gather data on fish presence and behavior with sensors that include an acoustic zooplankton and fish profiler, and an autonomous scientific echo sounder.

The energy minister will also have the authority to negotiate and issue power purchase agreements for up to 15 years and hold operators accountable.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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