Marine in Canada

Tidal energy

Embayments at the head of the Bay of Fundy between the maritime provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have some of the largest tidal ranges in the world. The most promising prospects for tidal power have centred on two sites in this region: the Cumberland Basin (an arm of Chignecto Bay) and the Minas Basin (both at the head of the Bay of Fundy). However, the only commissioned tidal power plant is located at Annapolis Royal, further down the Bay in Nova Scotia. The 20 MW plant came into operation in 1984: the barrage was primarily built to demonstrate a large-diameter rim-generator turbine. Annapolis uses the largest Straflo turbine in the world to produce more than 30 million kWh per year.

In view of the large tidal energy resource of the two basins, estimated to be 17 TWh per year, different options for energy storage and integration with the river hydro system have been explored. Following an application for funding in late-2006, Nova Scotia Power announced in January 2007 that the company planned to establish a tidal stream demonstration project in the Minas Passage, Bay of Fundy.

The harnessing of the tidal energy resource in the Minas Passage is one of the commitments the Government of Nova Scotia made in response to the Strategic Environmental Assessment for offshore renewable energy in the Bay of Fundy. The Fundy Tidal Institute was established to facilitate the work of the three companies appointed by the Government of Nova Scotia, allowing them to test their respective technologies and to share costs, potential impact and testing conditions.

The three companies are employing different techniques in the demonstration pilot-scale project: Clean Current Power Systems of Canada is using a Clean Current Mark III Turbine; Minas Basin Pulp and Power is using Marine Current Technology’s SeaGen turbine and NSPI has chosen an Irish OpenHydro turbine.

Following a scientific marine survey, data analysis, environmental studies and consultations with interested parties during 2008 and 2009, it was announced in November 2009 that NSPI/OpenHydro had deployed their 1 MW turbine at the demonstration site. After further testing the plan for Spring 2010 is that the cable connection onshore will be made. Ultimately, the capacity of the grid-connected tidal plant is expected to total 4 MW.

The province of New Brunswick which borders the landward side of the Bay of Fundy also conducted a Strategic Environmental Assessment of In-Stream Energy Generation Development during 2008. At the present time a tidal energy development policy is being considered.

Verdant Power of the USA is developing its Cornwall Ontario River Energy (CORE) scheme on the St Lawrence River. Phase 1 – Demonstration Pilot (2007-2010) will be followed by Phase 2 – Commercial Field Build-Out (2010-2012). The project could ultimately generate up to 15 MW of electricity.

Wave energy

Canada has not traditionally been thought of as having an interest in wave energy. However, there have been several important developments in recent years. In April 2008, the Canadian Federal Program of Energy Research and Development allocated funding for three years to support ocean energy R&D conducted by federal and provincial governments, in partnership with industry and academia. The Government of Canada continues to work on the regulatory framework for the management of offshore renewable energy resources (including ocean energy) in areas under federal jurisdiction.

A recent report issued by Natural Resources Canada, Review of Marine Energy Technologies and Canada’s R&D Capacity, confirmed that Canada was currently well positioned to provide R&D within its existing R&D facilities or as part of demonstration projects.

A number of organisations have set up the Ocean Renewable Energy Group to promote wave and tidal energy in Canada by addressing common issues (resource assessment, permitting, supply chain) as well as including a number of individual device developers, including a number from outside Canada ( Wave and especially tidal current are seen as a promising energy source, with a number of Provinces actively supporting development projects such as that by BC Hydro for Vancouver Island, where a number of wave and tidal energy developers are seeking to install devices. This activity is starting to be matched at a national level, with the Government undertaking work that will benefit all potential developers (e.g. looking into permitting processes).

Much of the interest in Canada has been in tidal current energy, because of the large resource in the Bay of Fundy. However, several initiatives in wave energy have taken place, including:

Wave Energy Technologies

Wave Energy Technologies has tested a 20 kW WET EnGen™ at Sandy Cove, Nova Scotia, as a pre-commercial demonstration project – the current status is unclear.


SyncWave plans to develop its first-generation demonstration Power Resonator off the west coast of Vancouver Island in 2011.


The Marine section of this area of the website collates information on Wave energy, Tidal energy and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion technologies. For further details please refer to the WER 2013 report marine chapter.