According to a report from Allied Market Research, the global wave and tidal energy industry generated $0.5 billion in 2020 and is anticipated to generate $1.3 billion by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 9.4% from 2021 to 2030.

The abundance of ocean surface and energy generation capacity in several nations has promoted governments to pursue ocean energy generation as an important source of renewable energy in future – and it is this factor that is driving the growth of the global wave and tidal energy market.

The UK Government committed in its British Energy Security Strategy to aggressively explore tidal power, prompted by the huge potential of the UK’s tides. Back in May, UK Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Greg Hands, visited marine energy company Minesto where he was introduced to the firm’s technology and toured the assembly hall facility in Holyhead, North Wales.

Initiated by local MP Virginia Crosbie, the visit was part of a tour aiming to showcase the energy potential of Anglesey and puts the island in the centre of governmental policymaking. Tidal energy was highlighted as a vital contributor to the net-zero energy system in the UK and globally.

Minesto’s proposed build-out of an 80MW commercial array in the waters outside Holyhead was also presented to the Minister. The site, named Holyhead Deep, has been verified as an ideal location for the first commercial tidal kite array in the UK to tap into a future gigawatt potential. Key assets established by Minesto in Wales include an Agreement for Lease for a 10MW installation, a state-of-the-art assembly hall and a highly skilled commissioning and operations team.

“We stand decisive in our commitment to realise the proposed scale-up at our Holyhead Deep site outside Anglesey in North Wales. Therefore, I was delighted to discuss some of the most critical areas to realise the build-out, including the pertinent need for speedy processes for consenting, licensing, and grid connection with Minister Hands,” said Minesto CEO Martin Edlund. “The green transition requires total commitment, and my meeting with Minister Hands was a good opportunity to urge for rapid governmental policymaking, enabling complementary renewable energy technologies that the world undeniably needs to attain a net-zero energy system.”

Canadian tidal power projects

It’s not just in the UK where tidal power development goes on in earnest. In Canada, the hydrokinetic testing centre, the Canadian Hydrokinetic Technology Testing Center (CHTTC), and ORPC Canada are set t deploy a RivGen renewable power system with the support of Marine Energy Group/CanmetENERGY-Ottawa this summer.

ORPC’s advanced RivGen Power System harnesses energy from free-flowing rivers and tidal currents without dams or impoundments. After proving itself over three winters in real-world, harsh Alaska conditions, the Igiugig-RivGen Project is the longest-operating hydrokinetic project in the Americas. Working in close partnership with the host indigenous community of Igiugig, ORPC has installed an energy storage system and smart grid controls, and with the addition of a second RivGen device in summer 2022, the fully operational RivGen Power System will provide baseload power for the local microgrid and reduce the community’s diesel use by 60-to-90 per cent.

“ORPC’s RivGen System has shown outstanding safety and reliability over the past three years in Igiugig, Alaska. We look forward to monitoring, testing and validating the system for the Canadian market at the CHTTC. We are confident that this deployment will accelerate awareness and acceptance among community leaders and policymakers,” said Dr. Eric Bibeau, Associate Professor at the University of Manitoba, and CHTTC Director.
“River hydrokinetic energy systems provide clean and renewable energy and have the potential to provide a reliable base load solution at a competitive cost and to be an attractive option for the urgent transition away from diesel fuel reliance by remote, off-grid communities,” said Ghanashyam Ranjitkar, Senior Marine Energy Engineer in Natural Resources Canada’s Energy Technology Sector.

Accelerating the transition of off-grid northern communities from their reliance on diesel is a critical and essential step to achieving the goals of the Canadian Net Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Net Zero 2050).

“Today, river current devices like RivGen can sustainably and economically address the energy needs of many northern and remote communities as they transition off diesel while creating clean jobs in Canada,” said Elisa Obermann, Executive Director of Marine Renewables Canada.

Powering Nova Scotia with tidal energy

Sustainable Marine has officially powered up its tidal energy operation in Canada and is delivering clean electricity to Nova Scotia’s power system.  The company declared in June that its system in Grand Passage is ready to commence commercial operation, making it the first to deliver in-stream tidal power to the grid in Canada. It follows an event held on Brier Island in the Bay of Fundy, attended by provincial politicians, dignitaries and members of the local community to celebrate the achievement.

During the event, Nova Scotia Minister of Environment and Climate Change Tim Halman ‘powered up Sustainable Marine’s in-stream tidal energy platform, to demonstrate how the technology works to those in attendance, signalling the official start of a new era of clean and predictable energy production for the region.

The Minister and guests were then provided with a tour of the platform where they were able to see the turbines in operation first-hand.

“This marks an incredible milestone in our journey to help communities achieve energy independence and fight climate change by harvesting clean energy from the waters around them,” says Jason Hayman, CEO of Sustainable Marine. “We have the potential to revolutionize the Atlantic power grid entirely by tapping into the resource available to us at the Bay of Fundy and we are committed to working collaboratively with our provincial and federal government partners to ensure alignment and remove barriers so we can accelerate the deployment of these technologies and help to transform the electricity system for the Maritimes and deliver the region’s net-zero vision. We are very grateful for the generous support provided to this project by NRCan and the Government of Canada to demonstrate that tidal energy can help Canada rapidly reduce GHG emissions.”

Sustainable Marine’s ground-breaking initiative is being supported by the Government of Canada with $28.5 million in funding – representing one of Canada’s largest-ever investments in tidal energy. The firm is striving to deliver the world’s first floating tidal array at FORCE (Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy). This project will be delivered in phases, drawing upon the knowledge gained and lessons learned in Grand Passage.

In the coming months the company will continue to operate the platform at its demonstration site at Grand Passage, gradually building up power production, to further prove the technology and environmental monitoring systems, before commencing deployments in the Minas Passage – renowned as the ‘Everest of tidal energy’.

Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change Minister Timothy Halman said: “The Government of Nova Scotia is committed to addressing climate change and transitioning our province to a clean economy. Clean, renewable energy is our future, and our tides are a key resource as we transition to a net-zero future. I want to commend Sustainable Marine for their work which will bring clean, renewable energy to homes in the province. Through this project, they are helping to lead Nova Scotia forward to a sustainable and prosperous future that will benefit all Nova Scotians and help the health of our environment and our planet.”

The Bay of Fundy’s huge tidal energy resource contains more than four times the combined flow of every freshwater river in the world, with the potential to generate approximately 2,500MW of green energy. Sustainable Marine’s recent announcement follows more than a decade of research, development and testing, managing the technical challenges associated with operating in highly energetic environments and proving the ultra-low environmental impact of tidal technology.

Nova Scotia Natural Resources and Renewables Minster Tory Rushton said: “Earlier this year, Sustainable Marine achieved a first in Canadian tidal energy history — delivering power from a floating platform to Nova Scotia’s electricity grid. Now it is poised to launch its commercial tidal operation. This project and others are positioning Nova Scotia as a global player in the tidal energy sector and are creating green technologies, green jobs, a cleaner environment, and a predictable, renewable source of electricity for Nova Scotians.”

Nova Scotia has allocated approximately 30MW of capacity via demonstration permits and berths at FORCE for developers to demonstrate the effectiveness, cost and environmental effects associated with this new form of energy generation.

These demonstration projects provide developers with a pathway to reduce costs on route to commercial projects with a regulatory framework already in place. It further aligns with the region’s net-zero commitments to accelerate the phase-out of coal-fired electricity by 2030.

This article first appeared in International Water Power magazine.