February 13, 2018
The much-anticipated Nova Scotia marine renewable energy regime finally has the force of law. First introduced over two years ago, the Nova Scotia Marine Renewable-energy Act took effect on January 23, 2018. The Act makes Nova Scotia the first Canadian province to dive in: so far no other province has introduced a full marine renewable energy regulatory regime for waters within provincial jurisdiction. Seeking to fill the regulatory gap for federal waters, on February 8, 2018 the Federal government tabled Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (that still must work its way through the legislative process) setting out how it intends to regulate offshore renewable energy projects in Canadian waters not situated in a province.
The complete answer to charting a course for the good governance of Canada’s emerging ocean economy requires federal-provincial collaboration to develop robust and comprehensive regulatory regimes for realizing the full potential for a vibrant marine renewable energy industry off Nova Scotia’s shores. For now, project developers can look to Nova Scotia’s new Marine Renewable-energy Act and regulations for the regulatory certainty necessary to consider – and pursue – opportunities to develop new and innovative marine renewable energy projects in Nova Scotian waters.
Here’s how the new regime delivers more opportunities to project developers, and 15 of the key details project developers need to know to flush out a fulsome project plan to pursue those opportunities.
Nova Scotia’s new marine renewable energy regime opens the door to innovative technologies, and confirms where and what marine renewable energy projects are authorized, delivering the regulatory certainty that should support sustained investments.
Innovative Technologies. The new regime allows more innovative marine renewable energy projects because they no longer must fit into the FORCE or COMFIT models that restricted the kinds of previously approved projects. To date, Nova Scotia’s development of its marine renewable energy resources has effectively been limited to deployment of in-stream tidal energy devices at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) site in the N.S. Bay of Fundy, and under its Community Feed-In Tariff (COMFIT) program. Some such projects have proceeded despite the lack of a comprehensive regulatory regime based on individual agreements between FORCE, the N.S. Departments of Energy and Natural Resources, and participating tidal energy development proponents and COMFIT approvals issued to Fundy Tidal Inc. The new regime authorizes the N.S. Minister of Energy to issue permits and licences to FORCE and to holders of feed-in-tariff approvals for facilities that the Minister approved before the Act took effect (in fact, the Minister issued FORCE its permit under the Act shortly after it took effect). The Act also expands the existing marine renewable energy regime by providing for the development of diverse types of marine renewable energy generation technologies: in addition to tidal, energy generation technologies that harness energy from ocean waves, currents and winds blowing over marine waters can potentially be eligible.
Designated Areas. The Act also designates certain areas within the province for marine renewable energy activities:
New Licencing & Permitting Regimes. Proponents must have a licence or permit issued under the Act to construct, install or operate a generator, or a cable or any other equipment or structure used or intended to be used with a generator, within a Priority Area:
Remaining Constraints. The commercial sale of electricity for onshore use and consumption is, for most marine renewable energy project developers, the business objective. A connected generator is the only type of generator that can supply electricity for onshore use and consumption. As described earlier, proponents of projects seeking to supply electricity for use or consumption onshore with connected generators must fall under either the Act’s licensing process or its demonstration permit process. Practically, the commercial opportunity to sell electricity onshore under these processes is still largely limited to in-stream tidal energy generation, though it’s still early days, and there is scope for the regime to develop as the marine renewable energy industry matures:
15 Key Project Planning Details
The new regime is only a framework but it’s a robust one. Here are 15 of the regime’s key details that project developers will need to know in order to flush out a fulsome project plan to pursue the new opportunities:
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of the Renewable Energy Team @ McInnes Cooper to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
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