September 27, 2011 11:02 AM

A new report concludes that Nova Scotia ports and coastal communities can benefit from tidal and other renewable marine energy development.

The Marine Renewable Energy Infrastructure Assessment Report, released today, Sept. 27, details existing infrastructure and what may be needed in the future to help ports and coastal communities better identify opportunities for renewable energy projects.

"Ports and businesses will have opportunities to support this exciting emerging industry, from housing large vessels to assembly and acting as base operations for deployment and retrieval of devices," said Energy Minister Charlie Parker.

"One port can't accommodate the broad requirements of developers, so many ports can play support roles. We are still in the early stages and we will have a better idea of the specific needs of the industry as the technology advances."

The Department of Energy commissioned the report in March to better understand what port-related infrastructure exists, where it is located and what may be needed as the industry evolves. The report focuses on tidal energy development, but it also includes the potential for offshore wind and wave development.

The report concludes that no infrastructure improvements are required in the short term to support planned tidal devices or small-scale projects using wind or wave resources. However, major infrastructure will be required in to support the tidal industry beyond 64 megawatts, which is the capacity of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Excellence (FORCE)demonstration project.

It is recommended that infrastructure requirements of the industry be reassessed again in four to five years.

On Sept. 21, Dalhousie University oceanographer Bob Fournier released his report, Marine Renewable Energy Legislation: A Consultative Approach, with a focus on the potential for in-stream tidal development. The Fournier report and the infrastructure assessment study will assist in the development of the province's first marine renewable energy strategy.

"These reports contain important information as we proceed with developing an industry that can supply us with secure, affordable electricity while at the same time building local expertise and creating jobs," said Mr. Parker. "Our strategy will respond to this report and the Fournier Report. This is about creating the conditions for the industry to thrive here. Still, the greatest information we can get is from experience in the water."

Proximity to the Bay of Fundy is an asset, but the report concludes that many ports have different assets that can support the industry. Highlights include:
--Digby, Parrsboro and Hantsport are within 150 kilometres of the Minas Passage site in the Bay of Fundy.
--Woodside and other ports in the Halifax Regional Municipality have large deep-water shipping facilities, heavy lift capacity, manufacturing and access to a variety of service providers.
--Shelburne and Mulgrave/Strait of Canso area have well-developed deep ports with heavy lift capacity.

Other ports, including Meteghan, Saulnierville, Weymouth, Freeport, Westport, Tiverton and East Sandy Cove in Digby County, have already provided support for small-scale tidal devices.

Nova Scotia has the most powerful and commercially promising tidal resource in the world in the Bay of Fundy, with potential capacity of 2,500 megawatts of safely extractable energy.

Government has been building the foundation for marine energy development through FORCE, feed-in tariffs and transmission upgrades. The next step is a marine renewable strategy and legislation to guide the development of the industry.

A copy of the Marine Renewable Energy Infrastructure Assessment Report can be found at