This spring, tidal energy developer Sustainable Marine announced it was ending operations in Canada because they couldn’t see a clear federal regulatory “pathway to deliver [their] project” at FORCE. Staff here at FORCE received the news with tremendous disappointment: Sustainable Marine holds one of our five sites, and showed promise as the first floating platform in Canada to successfully deliver electricity to the grid.
We hold close relationships with both parties: the federal government funds much of the research we do, and tidal developers pay rent at the site, funding most of our operations. They share a common goal: to safely harness the power of the tide in the fight against climate change.
To ensure this goal is met, the tidal energy sector needs a clear, transparent, and consistent process for how each project is evaluated. In other words, a common language that gives developers some consistency and clarity about how to move from one device to more; and that protects the inherent, treaty and legal rights of Indigenous fisheries, commercial and recreational fisheries, and marine life.
Without this, the Canadian sector is at risk: Sustainable Marine has left; others may follow. If companies depart Canada for regions with a less opaque regulatory process, not only do we lose the economic activity, but also the potential benefit of the resource: in Minas Passage, up to 2,500 megawatts, enough to power all of Nova Scotia during peak flows, and equal to removing one-million-cars’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions.
During this period of uncertainty, we’ve been in ongoing conversations with our partners. Everyone understands the need for a balanced process: one that acknowledges that climate change is imposing wide ranging effects on marine ecosystems.
We’re currently engaged in meaningful discussions with officials at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to develop such a process; we’re grateful Minister Murray and Minister Wilkinson have both committed to establish a task force “to address issues around DFO’s risk assessment framework and regulatory pathway.”
FORCE is committed to support the task force with our team, our research assets, our capacity to generate peer-reviewed studies, and our academic and community partners. We’ve already met with Minister Murray in Ottawa and at the FORCE site, and we’re confident we can build a solution that protects both the marine ecosystem and our climate change goals – that’s the whole reason FORCE was created.
If you’re interested in playing a part, or have any questions related to what’s happening, please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org. I or one of my colleagues will get in touch.