The election of the Trudeau Liberal Government in 2015 was seen as bringing a further impetus to the development of renewable energy across Canada and a block (together with falling oil prices) to future exploitation of heavy oil sands. Projects like the Trans-Canada export pipeline from Alberta to the east coast continue to face significant opposition, and the Provinces are being actively encouraged to pursue renewable policies.
The electricity market in Canada is administered at the provincial level with each province free to establish its own energy policies and pricing. Access to hydro power and the availability of significant land assets typically places Canada in the vanguard of countries moving to renewable power. The proximity of the country to the US, and its relatively lower population for its land mass, offers the opportunity for power exports, particularly to the more densely populated New England area of the United States.
Development of tidal power in Canada is taking place on both coastlines but the leading initiatives are focused on the East coast where the Bay of Fundy is the location of the highest tidal range in the world. Two major strategic studies have been undertaken by the Federal Government in 2008 and 2014, highlighting the huge energy potential of the East coast. The Governments of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have recently started to cooperate on potential for future energy generation in the Bay.
The provincial government of Nova Scotia has passed new tidal renewables legislation in 2015 to enable development of marine renewable energy and has funded the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), where most commercial work is now focused on the development of in-stream tidal technology but with the prospect of tidal range to be explored. The first in-stream turbines are due in the water in the autumn of 2016 and the Centre has given rise to an emerging range of contractors with capacity in the various aspects of constructing marine projects, together with the development of new monitoring and controls technologies.
Tidal range projects in the Bay have been under discussion since the early 1930s, focused primarily on the construction of tidal barrages across various points of the Bay. The 20MW Annapolis Royal tidal range power station on the western side of the Bay has run now for over 30 unbroken years.
In the last decade the Federal Government has committed research funding to examining the hydrodynamic and geological characteristics of the Bay as the basis of better understanding the options for balanced commercial development including for the generation of power.