The Roadmap and Beyond
One of 2012’s uncompleted tasks is our full update on life since the release of the 2011 Roadmap. This is in part a problem exacerbated by the progress in some of its pathways. Not exactly a bad complaint!
On December 7, the Roadmap team was recognized at Natural Resources Canada with their “2012 Innovation and Energy Technology Sector Award recognizing your exceptional collaboration on the Marine Technology Road Map.” On hand for this were James Taylor who chaired the initiative and Rolls Royce’s Carl Carson representing the industry members of the steering committee, as well as CanmetENERGY’s Tracey Kutney and Monika Knowles who so energetically supported the process and so diligently ensured that we had a coherent document to show for the process. Assistant Deputy Minister Geoff Munro has thanked us for the work done and for the document on a number of occasions but this was a delightful recognition that we all appreciate.
So, just what is going on to follow through on the plans?
A work in progress is to develop an innovation accelerator initiative to engage with the COMFIT, FORCE and Emera initiatives for tidal energy in Nova Scotia. We have already seen new alliances of companies looking to use their experience to provide solutions that these developments will need, which can be used by the industry worldwide. Canada needs an organised, collaborative and supported initiative to work out critical solutions using the first projects as incubators to demonstrate them. We have been looking at this market driven focus that is emerging in the UK and exploring how a Canadian “Energy Technology Institute” or even a Canada/UK Marine Energy Accelerator might work.
But, throughout the last 7 years, we continue in “bootstrap” mode. The EcoEnergy Innovation Initiative was heavily oversubscribed – probably marine renewable energy alone needed the entire funding allocation. The first projects are moving ahead with a multi-year commitment to standards and practices, incubation centers for small tidal and river current energy technologies and resource assessment work in both waves and tides.
The announcement in September of the FORCE/Ocean Networks Canada tidal observatory project was the first of the many collaborations across sectors needed to establish operational approaches for this new industry.
The launch of Marine Renewables Canada and the mission by 13 companies, 2 universities and 3 governments to the International Conference on Ocean Energy in Dublin was a big step in the market profile building which will now continue through 2014 when Canada hosts the world’s largest marine renewable energy industry development event.
Perhaps one measure of an emerging foundation for future progress along the pathways in the Roadmap is the emergence of clusters of graduate students, now including PhD as well as masters level, centered at Acadia, Dalhousie, Manitoba and Victoria. We may not have done as much as the 100 participants in the Roadmap would have hoped for, but we have made progress and the next generation is ready to keep us accountable, and bring new skills to focus on the needs and opportunities we have identified.
The next critical step is the market for large-scale tidal to be kicked off by the FIT rate setting in Nova Scotia in spring 2013. A number of these projects could them move ahead in 2015/16 going some way toward the ambitious target set in that roadmap.