Marine Renewables Across the Atlantic - Canada

Hot on the heels of our International Collaboration, we look further afield than the UK market and evaluate the Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap for Canada. The roadmap targeted some very racy numbers for deployed capacity (>75MW) today, when it was written in 2011. In many ways it is unrealistic targets like this that have dented the perception of the industry. On the other hand, targets are a good thing to have and to aim to achieve, especially when there is a programme of support to accelerate the development of the industry.

Tidal Stream

Through the Bay of Fundy is the fastest identified tidal flow in the world and offers huge potential to tidal stream energy devices. Fortunately this has been identified and a number of berths (sites with cabled grid connection) are available for developers to exploit the resource at a site known as FORCE (Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy). Similar resource can be found on the Pacific Coast of Canada too, but this has not been as extensively developed as the Atlantic seaboard (yet); giving an overall estimated mean extractable capacity at 6.3GW.

Canada is supporting the development of tidal stream devices through the development of FORCE to accept arrays of devices and large power outputs as the technology develops toward commercial arrays. Operation of the FORCE site with a focus on collaboration and information sharing is aimed to accelerate development of the industry across multiple project types rather than focusing on each in isolation.

Not to say that the integration of marine renewables has been easy in Nova Scotia! The now infamous Grinding Nemo sign is clear evidence of that! A major lesson learned for the industry - you have to engage with the local people as early as possible; inform them, involve them and listen to their views. Further to this, although a small area, the bay itself has a variety of site conditions due to the bathymetry; this results in sites of varying depths, flow speeds and turbulence intensities, so some berths are more sought after than others.

Fundy FORCE Deployment

Image source: Fundy FORCE

Canada River

Wave Energy

The estimated mean extractable capacity of 27.5GW for wave energy shows what a large potential resource Canada has here. To date the development has lagged behind that of tidal stream turbines, much like the technology. With the West Coast Wave Collaborative and West Coast Wave Initiative (both centrally funded) exploring and modelling the potential energy and identifying test site locations.

Meanwhile two projects have been supported by provincial funding off the coast of Vancouver Island and wave energy for British Columbia is gaining momentum as the predictability and energy available from the resource is better understood.

Run of River Turbines

Run of river turbines have great potential (mean extractable power >2GW) in remote parts of Canada that are often reliant on diesel generators for electrical power. Not only is this diesel burning highly polluting, but it is also expensive and unreliable when it is brought to isolated communities via truck on a specifically built ice road.

Canadian trials of run-of river turbines have included major utilities to ensure well integrated solutions are developed. There is the recognition that run of river technologies can be extremely useful in remote parts of Canada and continued funding to support the development of devices, operational management and site assessment techniques for these systems.

The Canadian Marine Renewable Energy roadmap was all about positioning Canada as a market leader in marine renewables. Despite the emergence onto the scene after sites in the UK, such as EMEC, Canada has continued to make significant strides in marine technology development, while UK governmental support has dwindled. Perhaps development hasn't been as rapid as they had hoped, but Canada has secured a good basic framework to support marine renewables and positioned itself as one of the leading nations.

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