As a new and emerging industry, marine renewable energy raises a number of challenges for the Government of Canada, including the ability to understand and assess the variety of technologies that are being developed, and the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts resulting from these technologies. Regulatory authorities, including those within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), will turn to science experts seeking advice regarding decisions on whether or not to grant approvals for various activities in the offshore renewable energy sector.
In anticipation of future development in this sector, DFO obtained funding support under Natural Resource Canada’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF) for “Supporting an Efficient Regulatory Framework for Ocean Renewable and Clean Energy Initiatives”. The ultimate aim of this CEF project is to develop a strategic research plan to ensure that marine renewable energy developments are effectively reviewed and located in such a manner as to minimize adverse environmental and socio-economic impacts. The results of the work will help identify priority areas for environmental as well as socio-economic research.
The project includes 5 key stages: development of Pathways of Effects (PoE) logic models for each major form of marine renewable energy (offshore wind, wave, in-stream tidal, and in-river hydrokinetic); identification of major regulatory decision points; development of a regulatory guidance document; completion of a gap analysis between regulatory decision points and existing science; and ranking of research priorities in the form of a strategic research plan for the consideration of DFO senior management.
This report presents work related to the first stage: development of PoE models, that are conceptual representations of predicted relationships between human activities and their associated sub-activities - the pressures - and the environmental effects or impacts that they may have on specific ecological endpoints. Information presented in the PoEs can help regulators, scientists, and developers to identify and understand linkages, information gaps, and research needs.
The attached PoE models and accompanying narrative (assumptions and strength of evidence) were prepared by a team of professional consultants and overseen by a DFO working group, with representation from Habitat, Science, Oceans, as well as a representative from Natural Resources Canada. The draft documents outline potential linkages between activities associated with marine renewable energy and the environmental stressors. The design of the PoE models follows the international Driving Forces-Pressures-State-Impact-Responses (DPSIR) framework adopted by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, and originally developed by the United Nations Environment Program.
The PoE linkages were based on a review of strategic environmental assessments, expert panel reports, environmental assessments, monitoring reports, scientific literature and the expert judgment of the consultants and the working group members. The PoE models will be shared with industry, other federal departments, provincial authorities, academia, First Nations, and others for their input.
The Working Group also requested a scientific peer review of the final PoE models and supporting narrative (assumptions and strength of evidence), to ensure all of the identified stressors, interactions, receptors and outcomes are supported by science, and the risks associated with marine renewable energy development (offshore wind, wave, in-stream tidal, and in-river hydrokinetic) that are relevant to government regulators are identified. This review was conducted on 3rd and 4th December 2011.