Now is the time – realizing the marine renewable energy opportunity

For the past 5 years or longer, the advances in marine renewable energy in Canada have counted on the leadership by Nova Scotia and Quebec as the federal government largely retreated behind its “responsibility” only for energy technology and its “vision” for a traditional-energy superpower. Sadly, the earlier BC interest led by BC Hydro was eroded by a government that sidelined the carbon tax, clean energy funding and is fixated on a deflating LNG bubble!

But, as I write this we have an extraordinary First Ministers meeting on climate action underway. Having joined a number of the efforts to assist the provinces in generating a national energy strategy, we were happy to see one emerge this summer, even if it was rather undeveloped. A key call in that strategy was to have the national government join, and that is now happening! The provinces, the federal government and others will make up a delegation to the Paris conference in the coming days and it seems likely that Canada will be an active player in searching for international climate action!

In our pursuit of the strategy to develop a Canadian component of the international marine renewable industry, our effort on wave, river current, and on the west coast as been set-back by a lack of alignment of economic, energy and climate action with the needs of the sector. With momentous change occurring daily, our membership should watch closely and redevelop efforts to engage with a new federal government, new national initiatives, and, amazingly – a clean energy plan from Alberta!

We are not starting from the point we were a decade ago. A recent Globe and Mail vision for the transforming Canada (not even focused on energy) showed parity in tidal power as one of four markers for life in 2040! Marine energy is reflected in the launch by the Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity of a strategy for clean electrification as a climate action foundation for Canada. And, perhaps most significantly, Canada is now recognized as (one of?) the critical birth place of a tidal energy industry. We have avoided some mistakes and setbacks experienced elsewhere and we have attracted world interest and leadership.

As governments take a renewed approach to climate action and energy transition, and as the federal government looks to accelerate innovation and infrastructure development, marine renewables offers a huge up-side for “green” investment. Now, more than ever, we all need to engage in the discussions with our governments, our business community, our communities and families. It is an easier sell than ever and you will find that we have advocates that you do not even know!