Supporting Policies for Ocean Energy

Government of Canada
In the fall, Canada joined the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, which commits to “Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A Vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity. The action plan prioritizes marine renewable energy as one of the areas of focus. As part of this commitment, the Government of Canada has indicated that they will lead public consultation on Canada’s blue economy strategy in 2021.

The Government of Canada has also begun consulting on future offshore renewable energy regulations through the Offshore Renewable Energy Regulations (ORER) Initiative. The ORER initiative aims to develop safety and environmental protection regulations that will apply to exploration, construction, operation and decommissioning activities related to renewable energy projects and power lines in Canada’s offshore areas. The ORER will be developed under the Canadian Energy Regulator Act that came into force in August 2019.

This legislation enables the Canada Energy Regulator to review and authorize activities related to offshore renewable energy in Canada’s offshore areas. These activities could include:
  • Site characterization activities, such as, resource surveys, geoscience and geotechnical studies, and environmental surveys; and,
  • Construction, certification, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore renewable energy facilities and offshore power lines.These regulations will not apply to tidal energy projects in the Canada’s Bay of Fundy, as these tidal projects fall primarily under the jurisdiction of the provincial government of Nova Scotia.
Province of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia continues to be the most active region for marine renewable energy development in Canada, now with seven permitted projects at different stages of planning and development.
The call for proposals for the vacant berth at FORCE initiated in 2019 resulted in an award of the berth to BigMoon Power. This process is led by a third-party administrator who is conducting the process on behalf of the government and requires that BigMoon also remove the Cape Sharp turbine that remains in the berth after its 2018 deployment.
The Government of Nova Scotia has also issued additional permits under its demonstration permit program that was launched in 2018.  Under the program, marine Renewable-energy permits allows project developers test or demonstrate new ways of generating marine renewable energy. Applicants may apply for unconnected permits to test non-grid connected devices or demonstration permits to deploy and connect devices to the electrical grid in the Province. Each demonstration project may be permitted no more than five (5) megawatts of new generating capacity, with a total of no more than ten (10) megawatts available under the program. In August, Neweast Energy was granted a permit for an 800 kW project. Another 7 MW was previously allocated to Big Moon Power (5 MW), Jupiter Hydro (2 MW), and Nova Innovation (1.5 MW).
Numerous permits have been issued for unconnected tests/demonstrations and the Province of Nova Scotia continues to fund and support research dedicated to enabling and advancing tidal energy development. Nova Scotia also remains the only jurisdiction in Canada that has established a regulatory framework exclusively dedicated to marine renewable energy providing both regulatory certainty a management/governance structure to support responsible development of our marine environment (i.e. environmental, social and economic interests).
Market Incentives 
Under Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable Energy Act, projects that receive a permit can also receive a power purchase agreement (PPA) of up to 15 years. Any utility in Nova Scotia is required to procure all electricity under the PPA.
Two projects at FORCE have approvals for Nova Scotia’s feed-in tariff (FIT) for 53 cents/kilowatt hour and allows them to enter into a 15-year power purchase agreement with Nova Scotia Power, the provincial electric utility: 1) DP Energy’s Uisce Tapa Project and 2) Spicer Energy’s Pempa’q project (a joint venture between Sustainable Marine Energy and Minas Tidal Ltd.).
Projects in other areas of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy are also able to receive a FIT under Nova Scotia’s demonstration permit program. In 2020, NewEast Energy was the newest entrant to receive a FIT, with Big Moon Power, Jupiter Hydro, and Nova Innovation having received approvals and a FIT under the permit program in 2018-2019.
Public Funding ProgramMEsIn late 2020, the Government of Canada released its climate action plan; “A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy” which outlined a number measures to support renewable energy development of that marine renewable energy could benefit from. These measures include:
  • $964 million over four years to advance smart renewable energy and grid modernization projects.
  • $300 million over five years to advance the government’s commitment to ensure rural, remote and Indigenous communities that currently rely on diesel have the opportunity to be powered by clean, reliable energy by 2030.
  • $750 million over five years for Sustainable Development Technology Canada to support clean technologies.
These measures are in addition to an announcement earlier in the year for $2.5 billion to be earmarked for clean energy within the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

Consenting processes

At the federal level, there is no existing marine spatial planning policy for ocean energy. Spatial planning for ocean energy takes place only in the province of Nova Scotia.

Pre-selected areas for tidal current energy development have been selected in the province of Nova Scotia, in the Bay of Fundy.

Site selection was determined, in-part, by a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on tidal energy development in the Bay of Fundy (FORCE). Resource assessments were also considered as part of the site selection. Another area in Nova Scotia that recently underwent a SEA is Cape Breton Island, inclusive of the Bras d’Or Lakes.

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. Integrated Management 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.

The authorities involved in the consenting process are:

• Federal authorities: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada, Public Works and Government Services, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

• Province of Nova Scotia: Department of Energy, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Department of Environment, Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Office of Aboriginal Affairs.

• Members of Nova Scotia’s Federal/Provincial One Window Committee on Tidal Energy:

- Federal: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Transport Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Environment Canada, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada;

- Provincial: Energy, Natural Resources, Aboriginal Affairs, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Labour and Advanced Education, Environment, Economic and Rural Development and Tourism.

Within the province of Nova Scotia, the Department of Energy is responsible for managing the consenting process through a “one window committee” process, consisting of federal and provincial government departments/agencies with an interest in the marine environment and ocean energy.

At the federal level, authorizations required prior to the approval of marine renewable energy projects include land use, project activities, transmission, occupational health and safety, operational safety, environmental protection and navigation.

At the provincial level, in Nova Scotia projects are not able to proceed in an area that has not undergone a SEA.

At FORCE testing site, projects must be approved by the Minister of Energy and are selected through a competitive Request for Proposal process.

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.

The Canadian version of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), is typically required for projects.

A federal Environmental Assessment is required for tidal current projects 50 MW or greater. Tidal current projects less than 50 MW do not require a federal Environmental Assessment. If the tidal current project is located on federal lands (i.e. the federal seabed), then a federal Environmental Analysis is required. Tidal current projects less than 50 MW and located on provincial lands (i.e. the provincial seabed), are only subject to a provincial Environmental Assessment. In Nova Scotia, a provincial Environmental Assessment is required for tidal current projects greater than 2 MW. Projects can be subject to Environmental Assessments below these thresholds at either the federal or provincial level, subject to Ministerial discretion.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is the federal authority responsible for a federal Environmental Assessment.

Environmental Assessments usually require ongoing environmental effects monitoring throughout the lifecycle of a project.

There is no legislation or regulations designed solely for the licensing of renewable energy activity in the offshore.
Nova Scotia’s Electricity Act and Renewable Electricity Regulations outline two paths for the development of tidal energy projects: at a community level and large-scale R&D level. The Regulations outline a comprehensive application process that projects must undergo in order to receive one of two feed-in tariff rates.

In 2011, Canada’s Federal Government established the Marine Renewable Energy Enabling Measures program to develop and present to Cabinet, by March 2016, a federal policy framework for administering marine renewable energy activities.

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.

Consultations can occur as part of the SEA process.

Nova Scotia also undergoes engagement with stakeholders, ratepayers, and taxpayers primarily at the SEA stage, but also throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Statutory consultation required:

At the federal level, the Government of Canada has a legal duty to consult Aboriginal people when there are potential or established Aboriginal or treaty rights that may be adversely impacted by a contemplated Crown conduct, such as a marine renewable project approval.

Like the Government of Canada, the Government of Nova Scotia has a duty to consult with the First Nations of Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq.

Informal consultation activities:

There are two cooperative mechanisms for Canada and Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq consultation—the Canada-Nova Scotia Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Consultation Cooperation and the tri-partite Mi’kmaq/Nova Scotia/Canada Consultation Terms of Reference (TOR).

The Nova Scotia Department of Energy leads an Energy Consultation Table with the participation of federal authorities and the Mi'kmaq where provincial energy issues are discussed.

The One Window Committee, along with the Province of Nova Scotia’s Marine Renewable Energy Strategy provide guidance to developers on potential permits/approvals, and review processes.

The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) has an approved Environmental Assessment for its full site, inclusive of its four deployment berths. As such, developers at the site do not have to undergo individual EAs. Developers are still required to provide applications to other relevant regulatory agencies.


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publications of the OES do not necessarily represent the views or policies of the IEA Secretariat or its individual member countries.