WEST BAY – Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger reaffirmed his government’s commitment to tidal power development during a visit to the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) site here on Wednesday.
Younger, who was joined by Clare-Digby MLA Gordon Wilson, made his first visit to the site since taking office last fall, touring both the visitor centre and the nearby electrical substation before moving on to see Ottawa House By-the-Sea Museum.
“It was very important for me to come here, because we have made tidal energy one of the pillars of our energy strategy in the province,” said Younger, referring to the $4.2 million committed by the government to help upgrade the FORCE site with its grid connections and make sure all four berths are filled.
The minister also plans to leave for Europe in two weeks to meet with representatives from some of the companies developing turbines to be deployed at the FORCE site.
“Nova Scotia is hosting the International Conference on Marine Renewable Energy in the fall, and it’s the first time it’s ever been held outside of Europe,” said Younger. “So we’re trying to put a real push on to show we are the world leader in this.”
He said he is excited about the employment and research opportunities created by tidal power, most of which is in rural Nova Scotia, helping support and sustain the rural economy over the long term.
Once tidal power reaches the commercial production stage, he said it only makes sense that the large turbines be manufactured locally because they are so large. Meanwhile, the research and development expertise built in Nova Scotia will be in demand around the world, he added.
Wilson said he has been eagerly watching what happens at the FORCE site because Digby has an interest in potentially being a service port for the large tidal development, but also because there are other tidal developments taking place in his part of the province.
“The big factor I see here is this is a major investment in Nova Scotia,” he said. “It’s our resource and I hope we do everything we can to keep those resources and the fruits of those resources in Nova Scotia.”
Digby, Hantsport and Parrsboro do not need to compete with each other as ports for tidal power, according to Wilson, who said they all need to work together to make sure the industry has what it needs.
“Industry is going to be the one that dictates,” he said. “What we as a government do is make sure we’ve done our homework with land use planning, any regulatory hiccups that might be there, and making sure its culturally acceptable and welcoming so when industry finally makes that decision, each community is ready for whatever they might be able to accommodate.”