The Canadian marine renewable energy sector progressed steadily in 2015. The province of Nova Scotia passed sector-specific legislation, the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) announced the development of a 5th berth at the in-stream tidal demonstration site, new monitoring instruments for accurate tidal current and turbulence measurements were developed, and international collaborative R&D projects between Canada and the United Kingdom were announced.
SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND TARGETS
Canada’s Marine Renewable Energy Technology Roadmap establishes targets whereby the Canadian sector contributes to projects totalling 75 MW by 2016, 250 MW by 2020 and 2 GW by 2030 for installed in-stream tidal, river-current and wave energy generation.
Many tidal activities are taking place on the Atlantic coast, particularly in the province of Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable Energy Strategy outlines the province’s plan to promote innovation and research, establish a regulatory system and encourage the development of market-competitive technologies and an industrial sector. Released in 2012, the Strategy sets goals to develop marine renewable energy legislation, implement a research and development plan and has a target of licensing 300 MW of commercially-competitive in-stream tidal electricity generation. This past year saw the delivery of the legislation and progress on research and development activities.
LEGISLATION AND REGULATORY ISSUES
At the federal level, the Department of Natural Resources Canada, under the Marine Renewable Energy Enabling Measures programme, continues to take a lead role towards the development of a policy framework for administering marine renewable energy activities in the federal offshore. This policy framework will provide direction to the federal Government on the potential development of a comprehensive legislative framework for administering marine renewable energy projects in the federal offshore.
The Government of Nova Scotia passed the Marine Renewable Energy Act in 2015, which applies to Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy and the Bras d’Or lakes. This legislation ensures that marine renewable energy projects, including in-stream tidal, tidal range, offshore wind, wave and ocean currents, are developed in a manner that respects the environment and the interests of local communities; ensures increased consultation and provides for the safe, responsible and strategic development of the industry; and establishes a licensing and permitting system for the placement of marine renewable energy generators in those areas.
From 2011 to 2015, the province of Nova Scotia had two opportunities for in-stream tidal energy developers to receive Feed-in Tariffs (FITs)—one for community-owned, smaller scale developments under the Community Feedin Tariff (COMFIT) programme (at a rate of 65.2 cents/kilowatt hour) and another for larger scale developmental projects (ranging from 37.5 cents/kilowatt hour to 57.5 cents/kilowatt hour). The Province’s Electricity Plan, released in November 2015, replaces guaranteed FITs with a fair, competitive process for renewable energy technologies; however, existing FIT approvals will be able to proceed.
The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) is Canada’s research centre for in-stream tidal energy, located in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. FORCE provides four berths (project sites) to host technology developers, with electrical infrastructure to deliver power to the grid. In December 2014, four developers with projects at FORCE received FIT approvals, totalling 17.5 MW to be developed at the FORCE site:
Each of the developers at FORCE has received approval for the FIT, which allows them to enter into a 15-year power purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power, the provincial electric utility. Cape Sharp Tidal Venture is expected to deploy their first turbines in the Bay of Fundy in early 2016.
In December 2015, Nova Scotia announced an agreement with Irish-based DP Energy to install a 4.5-MW instream tidal energy project at a 5th berth at the FORCE test site. DP Energy has plans to install three 1.5 MW Andritz Hydro turbines. In addition, Fundy Tidal Inc. has received three approvals under the Nova Scotia COMFIT programme, which allows local community groups to connect small scale in-stream tidal devices under 500 kW to the electrical grid at the distribution level for over a 20-year contract.
The Government of Nova Scotia has committed to limiting the impact on ratepayers, due to the FIT, to two per cent.
PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
To date, Canada’s main public funding programmes supporting national research, development, and demonstrations (RD&D) are from federal programmes administered through the Office of Energy Research and Development at Natural Resources Canada. Canada has committed approximately $37 million to marine renewable energy RD&D since 2010. In addition, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), an arm’s length foundation created by the Government of Canada, has committed approximately $13 million to develop and demonstrate projects that include in-stream tidal, river-current and wave energy technologies.
The National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Programme has supported many early technology assessment and physical and numerical modelling trials. Most projects have benefitted from the refundable tax credit for Scientific Research and Experimental Development.
At a provincial level, Nova Scotia has directly invested in the FORCE development initiative through a contribution of $11 million. In addition, the Nova Scotia Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA) has supported a number of strategic research projects in marine energy, which are estimated be a value of approximately $3.5 million. In addition, provincial economic development agencies and funds, in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia, have provided at least $10 million to support projects.
MARINE SPATIAL PLANNING POLICY
The Oceans Act, Canada’s Oceans Strategy, and the Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada provide the policy framework and guide Canada’s approach to oceans management. The approach is centred on the principle of Integrated Management (IM), which seeks to establish decision-making structures that consider both the conservation and protection of ecosystems, while at the same time providing opportunities for creating wealth in oceans related economies and communities.
IM efforts in Canada are being undertaken through an area-based approach that supports marine planning, management and decision-making at appropriate spatial scales, from regional to site-specific. In Canada, IM is implemented through a regional approach. Therefore, it is important to determine the key social, technical, legislative/policy and political challenges to advancing spatial and temporal planning at a regional level.
Network development is underway in all three of Canada’s oceans, and is an example of conservation work undertaken as part of Canada’s approach to oceans management. A network is a collection of individual marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures, in different geographic locations, designed to work together in order to fulfill ecological objectives more effectively and comprehensively than a group of individual sites could do alone. The National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas provides overarching direction for this work, and points to the importance of using existing IM decision-making structures.
PERMITTING AND LICENSING PROCESS FOR OCEAN ENERGY PROJECTS
A key piece to Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable Energy Act is the creation of a licensing and permitting system that will oversee the development of marine renewable energy projects. Any generator proceeding in a priority area without an approval will be in violation of the Act. A license will allow a project developer to carry out the business of extracting energy within a ‘marine renewable-electricity area’ (i.e., an area designated for development) through single or multiple devices. A permit will be issued to a temporary deployment of a device for the purposes of testing and demonstration.
This system will ensure that projects proceed only after undergoing a thorough review by the Government and subject to effective Government oversight and monitoring.
SEA TEST SITES
FORCE reached a major milestone in 2014: the installation of the underwater power cables. The four cables laid along the sea floor of the Minas Passage give FORCE the largest transmission capacity for tidal power in the world. With a combined length of 11 kilometres, the four cables have a total capacity of 64 MW at peak tidal flows, equivalent to the power needs of 20,000 homes. Each 34.5 kilovolt cable, together with its reel, weighed over 100 tonnes.
In 2015, following the announcement that all four FORCE developers received approval through Nova Scotia’s FIT programme, FORCE began feasibility and impact studies, approvals, permitting, and electrical design work to expand their onshore electrical infrastructure to accommodate up to 20 MW; to allow small turbine arrays to connect to the electricity grid.
Cape Sharp Tidal Venture (CSTV), a berth-holder at FORCE, had two successful operations in 2015: the installation of a subsea cable at the FORCE test site, and the launch of the Scotia Tide deployment barge. The cable is an interconnection hub that will connect CSTV turbines to the existing 16MW subsea FORCE export cable. Not only was the operation safely executed, but it is the first project component to be deployed, and the only system of its kind in the world. CSTV also deployed 300 metres of cable to its berth site at FORCE.
CSTV’s barge, christened The Scotia Tide, took her maiden test voyage around the Pictou Harbour in December 2015. The unique, catamaran-style vessel is the largest heavy lift capacity barge in Atlantic Canada. The 64 metres long, 37 metres wide, 650-tonne barge has a 1,150-tonne carrying capacity. Purpose-built for deployment and recovery operations, it is equipped with three heavy-lift winches that give it a unique capacity to lower and raise turbines from the sea floor.
Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) platform
To support the deployment of the turbines, FORCE has completed construction of two underwater platforms to host a suite of resource and environmental monitoring instruments, called the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) platforms. Both platforms are now in sea trials.
As part of FAST, FORCE has completed phase one of the Vectron project, with partners Nortek Scientific and Dalhousie University, which will offer high resolution current velocity and turbulence data at turbine hub height.
FORCE has also conducted a survey of the FAST data cable, establishing useful methods and equipment for monitoring and maintaining subsea assets. FORCE has also integrated shore-based monitoring systems, including X-band radar, a meteorological tower and a tide gauge, providing a multi-dimensional understanding of the operating environment, in real-time.
FORCE is collaborating with Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) to support the FAST programme by enhancing the accessibility of its data to the public, scientists and developers around the world. Much of the data collected is accessible online, including a time-lapse video from the previous day: http://fundyforce.ca/visit/live-video/.
A part of FORCE’s core mandate is designing a new environmental effects and monitoring programme to track effects of turbines on the environment.
RIVER CURRENT TURBINE TEST SITE
The Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Test Centre (CHTTC) in Manitoba is operating using its dedicated infrastructure in the Winnipeg River to test river current technologies. In 2015, CHTTC deployed and tested 4 turbines, supplied by 3 technology developers. CHTTC applied the IEC TC114 standard 62600-200 for the performance evaluation of tidal turbines for two of the turbines. During this test, the incoming flow to the turbines was measured using Acoustic Doppler Velocimetres (ADVs) and Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) and the load on the mooring line was measured simultaneously.
In 2014, at CHTTC, more than 80 fish were tagged and released into the Winnipeg River. In 2015, data collected from receivers along the river and near turbines were used to analyse the effect of river current turbines on the activities of the fish. Preliminary data analysis indicates no significant effect on the fish behaviour due to turbine operation. In addition, a 48-hour underwater camera observed the interactions between a 5 kW river current turbine and passing fish; it was found that none of the fish in the vicinity of the project interacted with the turbine.
Other projects conducted by CHTTC in 2015 included: improving satellite imaging for river kinetic site selection; site assessment near Sagkeeng First Nation resort for river kinetic turbine deployment; creating a comprehensive map of off-grid communities with access to hydrokinetic resources; testing, calibrating and improving marine measurement equipment; and the design and development of innovative tools for flow measurement and other marine applications.
For 2016, CHTTC intends to test turbines according to international standards and through third party relevant certifications.
WAVE ENERGY CONVERTER TEST SITE
The College of the North Atlantic (CNA) operates the Wave Energy Research Centre (WERC) in Lord’s Cove on the south coast of the Island of Newfoundland. The Centre was established to conduct research in the development of a wave powered water pump coupled to a novel shore-based aquaculture system. In conducting this work, a former fish processing facility has been renovated and provides space for the farm, the computer control and data collection equipment, a laboratory, and workshops. CNA has also installed and commissioned instrumentation to characterize the weather and wave conditions at the site, and completed bathymetric mapping of the area. Currently, there are six fully permitted mooring sites (at depths of 6 to 30m) available within 1.5 km from shore. The site has collected weather and wave environment data, over three years. With a dedicated wharf and slipway, the site is ideal for the testing and demonstration of wave energy converters (WEC) and other surface and sub-surface structures in an energetic nearshore environment, as well as the development of associated instrumentation and sensor systems. To date, 3 WEC developers, 2 instrument manufacturers and a coatings company have expressed interest in evaluating their technology at WERC.
Scale model testing of the CNA wave energy converter water pump is completed and the deployment of a full scale prototype at sea in Lord’s Cove is expected in 2016. This approximately 10 tonne wave energy converter is designed as a robust, low technology point absorber conceived to deliver a high volume of water to shore. Once there, the water can be used in industrial, aquacultural and electrical generation applications, without exposing more complex technology to extreme ocean conditions.