New N.S. Demonstration Permit for Marine Renewable Energy in the Wind (and the Waves) With Proposed Marine Renewable Energy Act Amendments
October 6, 2017
By Peter L'Esperance, Lawyer at McInnes Cooper,
Sarah Mahaney, Former Lawyer at McInnes Cooper
On October 5, 2017, the N.S. government took another step toward creating a globally competitive marine renewable energy industry and associated innovation ecosystem in N.S. The Minister of Energy proposed amendments to the N.S. Marine Renewable-energy Act, passed in December 2015 but not yet in force, to create a new demonstration permitting program for marine renewable electricity projects in N.S. But the Act’s scope is still limited to provincial territory. To fully realise the potential for a marine renewable energy industry off N.S. shores, further work is needed to establish the necessary regulatory conditions – like the comprehensive and responsive joint federal-provincial regulatory regime we propose in Charting a Course for Good Governance of Canada’s Emerging Ocean Economy.
The Act establishes a regulatory regime within Nova Scotia to provide for and promote the responsible, efficient and effective development of marine renewable-energy resources, including ocean waves, tides and currents and winds blowing over marine waters. The proposed amendments will create a new program under the Act for project proponents seeking to demonstrate to the Minister of Energy a generator’s potential or capacity to produce marine renewable electricity. Projects with a demonstration permit will be authorized to connect to the province’s electrical grid and sell the electricity to Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI). Here are five key elements of the proposed program:
Innovation. The Minister will issue demonstration permits having regard to certain factors, including the extent to which the project is based on innovative technology or design.
Proactive Proponents. Rather than wait for the Minister to issue a call for applications relating to a particular geographic area, project proponents will be able to apply to the Minister for a demonstration permit.
Price. While existing feed-in-tariffs have set the price for electricity generated from certain developmental tidal arrays and small-scale in-stream tidal devices, for demonstration-permitted projects the Minister will set the price at which the electricity will be sold to NSPI. Significantly, demonstration-permitted projects are not limited to tidal energy, but can also be for energy generated from ocean waves and currents and offshore wind.
Capacity Limits. Demonstration permits will be available for projects of up to 5MW, but the Minister can only issue demonstration permits totaling a capacity of 10MW under the program.
Geographic Limits. Projects seeking a demonstration permit will have to be at least partially located within an area of marine renewable-energy priority: either the Fundy or the Bras d’Or Areas delineated by the Act.
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.
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