From Scotland to New Scotland: Constructing a Sectoral Marine Plan for Tidal Energy for Nova Scotia

Stephen Joseph Sangiuliano, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 23 ISSN 1702-3548 (online)


The marine environment has historically played a significant role in sustaining coastal economies, with 44% of the global population living within 150km of the coast. Projections of exponential population growth and an increase in living standards in the near future suggest that economic activity linked to the marine environment will grow, thereby giving rise to an increase in marine spatial usage in finite marine space. This materialization can exacerbate user – user conflicts, while placing further stress on the ecological functions of the marine environment, thereby contributing to enhance user – environment conflict. In order to solve such dilemmas, coastal nations have advocated for the implementation of marine spatial planning (MSP). A narrative running in parallel with MSP is that of climate change as a product of the excessive combustion of fossil fuels for purposes of energy provision. This climate change dilemma has prompted politicians around the world to advocate for the implementation of renewable energy systems. For geographical areas with high tidal current velocities, tidal current turbines (TCTs) offer a way to meet renewable energy capacity and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions targets. However, TCTs become another player operating within a finite and already stressed marine environment. Therefore, Scotland, whose marine environment hosts an abundance of tidal current resources, has become the first and only nation to construct and implement a sectoral marine plan for tidal energy (SMPTE) in order to facilitate the commercial-scale development of TCTs to meet national renewable energy deployment and GHG emissions reductions targets while accounting for potential industry and environmental conflicts. Nova Scotia is another geographical area with similar tidal resource potential. However, a plethora of factors have seemed to inhibit the deployment of TCTs in provincial waters. While Nova Scotia demonstrates a substantial industry cluster, capacity building, and supply chain, the province lacks a comprehensive MSP to manage uses of the marine environment in conjunction with TCT deployment. This paper constructs a draft SMPTE for Nova Scotia. The paper overviews the operation and timeline of tidal energy development internationally and compares it to the Nova Scotia context. Due to the complexities associated with the multiplicity of federal and provincial governmental departments delegated with legislative jurisdiction over various aspects of the marine environment, an analysis of legislation and policies is undertaken in conjunction with best practices in Europe in order to establish jurisdictional boundaries and authorities in relation to the proposed SMPTE. The SMPTE process and outputs are then detailed and a map of suitable plan option areas that take into consideration ecological, technological, social, cultural, political, and economic factors is presented and compared to the marine renewable-energy areas legislated under the Marine Renewable-energy Act 2015. A quality management review of the SMPTE is undertaken in relation to the ICES Marine Spatial Planning Quality Management System and compared against the quality management review undertaken for Scotland’s SMPTE. Research and data gaps are identified and key recommendations are made for the province of Nova Scotia and its tidal energy industry.