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Tidal energy opportunities remain untapped in Nova Scotia: industry players


For years, there's been talk and great interest in exploring tidal energy opportunities in Nova Scotia.

Known as Canada’s “Ocean Playground,” the province has long been eyed as a potential leader in developing the marine energy sector.

But industry players say there's no clear regulatory path to developing the tidal energy sector and getting beyond the research stage and into commercial development.

"We need to learn by doing and so we need devices deployed so that we can study for interactions in the marine environment and continue those conversations with other users in the Bay of Fundy,” said Lindsay Bennett, executive director with the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.

The first floating platform device that generated tidal energy for the power grid in Nova Scotia is no longer afloat

The U.K.-based company Sustainable Marine Energy ceased operations in Nova Scotia in 2023, voluntarily closing its Canadian operations and filing for bankruptcy, citing regulatory issues.

The former CEO Jason Hayman told the Natural Resources and Economic Development committee they were unable to get authorization from the federal government to drop other tidal energy devices in the water and their investors didn't see a future where only one device could be approved at time.

"What’s critical right now is that a developer accesses that path and can move from one device to multiple devices,” said Elisa Obermann, executive director with Marine Renewables Canada. “We need go get more devices in the water."

A federal task force on Tidal Energy in the Bay of Fundy issued a final report in February.

There’s hope it leads to a clearer regulatory path for the industry as there's fear the tidal energy opportunities will dry up and investors will go elsewhere.

"We can't have a year go by without any kind of progress on that implementation,” said Obermann.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a mandate to protect fish, habitats and other species at risk.

The industry claims there's been no documented incidents of fish or mammal collisions with tidal devices but more rigorous testing is needed.

To date more than $200 million has been spent on trying to develop the tidal energy sector in Nova Scotia, according the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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