Canada to create one agency to oversee offshore renewable energy projects

Source: By Brett Ruskin, CBC News • Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2016

New plan will introduce regulatory framework to manage future offshore wind and tidal projects

Workers walk past a turbine for the Cape Sharp Tidal project at the Pictou Shipyard in May.

Workers walk past a turbine for the Cape Sharp Tidal project at the Pictou Shipyard in May. (Andrew Vaughn/Canadian Press)

Canada is working on new rules for regulating offshore renewable energy projects, currently a patchwork of laws and procedures that can cause friction between producers and local communities.

The federal government is working on a set of comprehensive rules for approving and monitoring offshore energy projects and a single regulatory board to oversee them.

It’s reviewing similar legislation in United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

Overlapping regulations

The new rules would cover “offshore wind, wave and tidal current technologies,” according to documents released by the Department of Natural Resources.

Right now, “several federal departments have regulatory authority over matters related to offshore renewable energy activities,” says the department.

So if a renewable energy company wants to launch a tidal turbine or build an offshore wind farm, it needs approval from Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Projects in the works

There are a number of upcoming projects that will likely benefit from a more consistent approach.

Later this year, Cape Sharp Tidal is expected to lower one of its tidal turbines to the floor of the Bay of Fundy.

The project has run into opposition from local fishing and First Nations groups, who argue more research on its environmental impact is required.

There is also a plan to build Canada’s first offshore wind farm on the east coast.

Beothuk Energy intends to build enough offshore wind turbines to generate 1,000 megawatts of clean electricity. That project still has significant regulatory hurdles to overcome.