Annapolis Tidal Generating Station: Socioeconomic Issues and Opportunities

Tidal energy is one of the oldest forms of energy used by humans. Many of the early mills that date back to antiquity were tidal mills, which allowed for a simpler, less labour intensive approach at grinding grain. One of the earliest grain mills used in North America was in fact used in Port Royal (now Annapolis Royal) in 1607, and its use grew with the growth of agriculture. This original mill used water drawn from the Lequille River and was seen as the first engineering achievement in the New World. 
Today however engineering accomplishments have continued to rapidly progress resulting in new and improved advances in tidal energy, and ways in which to harness, harvest and benefit from such a dependable natural resource. Although Canada as a whole occupies some of the greatest locations for tidal energy, it is however, the Bay of Fundy that proves to be Canada’s, as well as the world’s most promising location for tidal power development, resulting in tidal energy. Thus through experimental facilities such as the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station, society as a whole gains the opportunity to continue to learn about the effects of tidal energy, and the issues and opportunities that come with it, particularly the socioeconomic impacts, which continue to remain dormant considerations in the grand scheme of tidal energy motives, and concerns.


In 1984, Nova Scotia Power pioneered itself, and became the first company in North America to partake in the construction of a modern tidal generating plant located in Annapolis Royal, NS. Construction on the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station began in 1980, and began as a federal and provincial government pilot project, aimed towards learning how to harness energy from the ocean, as well as prove the potential economic and ecological outcome of tidal energy. Within four years, the generating station was completed, and has dependably since contributed 20 MW capacities to the provincial grid. Annapolis Royal was chosen by the province to become the testing facility because the location already contributed a significant quality required of a tidal generating station, the causeway. Built in the 1960s, the causeway was originally designed as a transportation connector.  As a result the causeway allowed for the control of water flow, which was further affected by the construction of the tidal station.

Similar to any significant technological advancement, many concerns not only arose in the beginning of the construction of the station, but also continue to arise decades later. The largest concern, which receives the most attention, is that of ecological effects, both to marine life, and the environment.  However, notably significant are the socioeconomic effects of tidal energy.


Unlike the environmental concerns, and ecological impacts, the socioeconomic issues and opportunities of tidal energy are seemingly more positive. During the construction of the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station, several impacts were made directly on the local community. Socially, employment opportunities boomed, not only for local labourers, but also for local businesses, which provided necessities, also benefited from the influx of those involved with the project. Local hotels, motels, inns and boarding houses were profitable as a result of the necessity of non-local workers to reside locally for the duration of their participation on the project. Tourism exploded during this period as well, and is an industry that remains constant year after year, accounting for nearly 40,000 visitors annually. As a result of tourism, and the necessity to maintain the tidal generating station, local infrastructure has similarly benefited significantly. Roads and walkways are maintained, with more of a priority than other rural areas that are not seen as detrimental to maintain. As a result of being one of the few tidal stations in the world, Annapolis Royal has also benefited from solely the recognition of being home to the only tidal station in North America, and one out of three in the world, also drawing on water from the Bay of Fundy which was a serious contender to become one of the world’s natural wonders, and succeeding at becoming one of North America’s Seven Natural Wonders.

Annapolis Tidal Generating Station

Economically, it is difficult to see past the initial start up fee for tidal generating stations. However, the benefits considerably outweigh the negative aspects. Tidal energy significantly reduces carbon, and while the price of fossil fuels continues to drastically increase, the case for tidal energy strengthens. The main concerns when considering tidal energy, aside from community acceptance and engagement, falls under the ability to quantify the expenditure over the projects life, quantify the revenue over the projects life, calculate economic indicators to compare to specified criteria, and to identify risks associated with the project, and to assess their effect on the economic indicator. ( Aside from the large amount of capital investment, funding and other financial mechanisms, tidal energy is undeniably beneficial as it offers an alternative to fossil fuels, and no fuel is required to run the facility. Tidal generating stations also benefit from a significantly larger lifespan than its counterparts such as nuclear, and coal. Most beneficial however, is potentially its ability to remain constant, predictable and independent of weather and climate change, which is a serious issue the planet is faced with today. As a result, tidal energy also maintains no serious repercussions in the event of a catastrophic incident. Primarily, it is because of the lack of demand and investigation into its field that tidal energy is not nearly as advanced as it could be, which would likely result in decreases of cost, the more innovations are made.

As a result of Nova Scotia’s commitment of reaching 25% of the province’s electricity from renewable sources by 2015, and 40% by 2020, tidal energy has proven to be a necessary, and bonafide starting point, with the Annapolis Tidal Generating Station.


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