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Op-ed: Nova Scotia can be a leader in tidal power’s global surge

Jun 23, 2016 |

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Nova Scotia can be a leader in tidal power’s global surge

 June 22, 2016
By: Elisa Obermann, Executive Director, Marine Renewables Canada

In the 1980s Denmark had a vision for a sustainable future and decided to invest in wind energy. It embraced the new technology even when costs were still high and unknowns were still present. It established a market for renewable electricity, developed a regulatory framework, and incubated innovation that led to an industry with major manufacturers like Vestas. Today, Denmark is recognized as a world leader in wind energy and Vestas is viewed as the world standard for wind turbines.

Nova Scotia can do the same thing with tidal energy.

Already, in the early days of tidal energy development, Nova Scotia is recognized as a leader – not just within Canada, but globally. We have the best tidal energy resource, supportive policies that have attracted investment and world-leading developers, and decades of experience and expertise from the offshore and ocean technology sectors that can be adapted and transferred to tidal energy.

But, Nova Scotia is not the only place with these favourable conditions. The United Kingdom, France, Ireland, the United States, Chile and a dozen more countries have been pursuing tidal and wave energy with a focus on not only developing clean electricity, but also capturing the economic benefits a new industry like this will create. That’s because this new industry is significant. The tidal and wave energy market is estimated to reach $900 billion by 2050. If Nova Scotia competes in just 10% of this market and captures a 5% share, it can result in $4-5 billion over that period.

As an emerging industry, there are still unknowns and many challenges to address. However, that’s where the opportunity lies. Technical and environmental challenges are not just an issue in Nova Scotia. The global industry requires answers too. New innovations, solutions, and expertise are needed everywhere and at this early stage a global supply chain does not exist.

The first tidal energy projects in the Bay of Fundy will allow Nova Scotians to conduct research, answer questions about environmental interactions, adapt expertise from other sectors, and develop new technologies that can be exported to the global market. The global supply chain for tidal energy can start here.

Tidal energy development not only creates economic opportunities, it also provides Nova Scotia with a growing strength and a solution to governments’ pursuit of climate change action and a transition to a low-carbon economy. This is a new industry that can link the economy and the environment, creating clean electricity and new job opportunities while co-existing with other industries where Nova Scotians make their livelihood – it is something we can share together – one industry does not replace the other.

Nova Scotia can be the Denmark of tidal energy and many local businesses can be the Vestas. In fact, we’ve already seen over $30 million invested in local businesses and 300 new jobs in the last year from tidal energy development—but we must demonstrate leadership now while the window of opportunity remains open.

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