Could ocean waves power a province?

Ah, the sea. It’s brought life and death to many a sailor, and it might now do the same to a renewable energy concept. 

Driving the news: For years, various companies have tried to prove that harnessing tidal power from the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia is a viable source of renewable energy. Most have failed, and now, the whole idea of creating energy via big salty waves is on the brink. 

  • FORCE, the government-funded, private not-for-profit that supports tidal power projects in the Bay of Fundy, has faced many setbacks since being founded in 2009. 

Catch-up: Tidal power, which captures energy from the movement of tides, is alluring because it would provide a more consistent energy source than other renewables like wind and solar. The Bay of Fundy, home to the world’s highest tides, was seen as an ideal testing ground. 

Yes, but: Turns out, harnessing tidal power is hard. On one hand, the technology is difficult to master (one bankrupt company’s turbine even broke loose and ran ashore in November). On the other, federal red tape has stymied developments, with permits difficult to come by.

Why it matters: As Canada tries to green its energy, Nova Scotia is one of the provinces having the most trouble. A project harnessing the power of the Minas Passage — one of the bay’s inlets — at peak flows would generate the energy of about two large nuclear reactors.

Bottom line: It’s now or never for tidal power in Nova Scotia. If the remaining projects can’t succeed it would “deal a decisive blow to the industry in Canada,” per a Natural Resources Canada note obtained by The Logic.—QH