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Don’t miss boat on tidal energy
By RON SCOTT
Wed. Jun 2 - 4:53 AM
The United Kingdom and Canada are the world leaders in exploring the potential of harnessing the energy from the flow of tidal currents.
The U.K. is very excited by what they have learned from the three tidal turbine demonstration projects they have installed to date. As a result, they plan to install a tidal energy capacity of one gigawatt by 2020 — enough to supply the energy needs of approximately 300,000 homes. The U.K. is keen to take advantage of its impressive tidal regimes, decrease its carbon footprint, and reduce its dependence on non-renewable energy imports.
Scotland has been particularly aggressive. It is showing the way by granting six developers under-sea real estate permits in exchange for promises to build a tidal generation capacity of 600 megawatts (180,000 homes) by 2020 in the Pentland Firth area. The U.K.’s one-gigawatt target looks quite achievable when its interim plans to install tidal farms in Wales and the Channel Islands are added to the Scottish initiative.
Canada has had a great start, having installed demonstration turbines at Race Rock in B.C. and in waters off Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy. As yet, however, there are no Canadian plans to commercialize tidal energy generation. Canada’s Ocean Renewable Energy Group (OREG) claims that, given our progress, we could reasonably expect to build a capacity of around 600 megawatts by 2020. Much of that capacity could be in Nova Scotian waters.
Nova Scotia’s recently announced Renewable Energy Plan has recognized this potential. The plan calls for a task force "to develop strategies for commercializing marine renewable energy." It has also authorized "feed-in-tariffs (incentives) for developmental tidal arrays that reflects the cost of the turbines and their deployment."
And it will develop marine renewable energy legislation so that licensing procedures are defined and environmental protection and resource conservation are in place. This kind of support will encourage the financial community to invest in Nova Scotia tidal energy projects.
Still, we must act quickly to further define the true extent of our tidal energy opportunity, set tidal energy targets, and finalize the specifics of the permitting procedures and feed-in tariffs. Otherwise, other jurisdictions will step in and we will miss the window of opportunity that is open to us.
Timely action will permit Nova Scotia, like Scotland, to build on its current leadership position. If we take this action, we can look forward to the day when a significant ocean energy industry becomes a reality in Nova Scotia. It is a vision that is within our grasp.
Ron Scott is president of Maritime Tidal Energy Corporation.
POST YOUR COMMENT
I would like to see tidal energy become a reality, as much as anyone, but these guys are going to have to get their act to-gether, here they are talking about "feed-in tariffs" meaning this is high cost power, meaning either power rates or taxes go up, economic development is stifled and people lose jobs. How aout these guys going back to the drawing board and get competitive, then we will have another look at the option.
To Frank: I appreciate your concern about rising electricity rates, but the reality is that during the period of feed-in tariffs tidal energy will only represent a small fraction of the 2300MB capacity that NS power currently has. Let's say that by 2020, we have 23MB of tidal power, that would represent only 1% of the total. Let's say the initial feed-in tariff for tidal is $0.25/kWh - or let's say $0.25612/kilowatt, as that is $0.14 more than my residential rate of $0.11612. More than double - but it represents only 1% of the total, and so rates go up only by $0.0014 to $0.111752, or an extra $0.14 on a $100 bi-monthly invoice. By the time tidal energy represents a significant fraction of the installed capacity, two things will have happened (1) The costs of setting up tidal energy will have declined, so the feed-in tariffs will be decreased* and (2) the price of other forms of energy will have increased. *that is why they are called "feed-in". They are a subsidy, of limited duration. One last comment - our tax dollars are routinely used to provide significant subsidies to oil and gas companies. We just don't see this drain on our pocket book quite so easily.