Nova Scotia unveils tidal energy goal

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Canadian Maritime province of Nova Scotia has unveiled a plan to develop its tidal energy resources.

Nova Scotia has articulated a vision to be a global leader in the development of technology and systems that produce environmentally sustainable, competitively priced electricity from the ocean.  Since 1984, when the 20 MW Annapolis Royal Tidal Power Plant was commissioned, Nova Scotia has been home to the only tidal barrage plant of its kind in North America.

This week, Nova Scotia Energy Minister Charlie Parker released a document known as the Nova Scotia Marine Renewable Energy Strategy (44-page PDF).  Citing the magnitude of the province's Bay of Fundy tidal resource - more than 160 billion tonnes of water flow with each tide, which the province calculates can deliver a commercial potential of approximately 2,400 megawatts of power - the strategy offers plans to address research, development, and regulatory initiatives.

Although the strategy includes wave and offshore wind power, its primary focus is on tidal energy production.  The Marine Renewable Energy Strategy sets a target of 300 MW of commercial tidal development by 2020, an amount roughly equal to 10% of the province's electricity consumption.

To achieve this goal, the Strategy proposes awarding one or more Power Development Licenses to large-scale project developers, likely partnerships of technology and utility or power generation companies.  Given the language in the Strategy, which references "[i]ndustry interest in developing a large-scale, 300 MW commercial project", it appears possible that the province is targeting a single, 300 MW tidal project to achieve its goals.  If so, it could lead to the development of the largest tidal power plant in the world, larger than the French La Rance project or the Korean Sihwa Lake project.

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