Sustainable Marine's PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)

Sustainable Marine’s Canadian business goes bust over DFO permitting issues

Sustainable Marine Energy’s Canadian subsidiary has been placed into voluntary bankruptcy, citing permitting issues with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as the main reason behind the development.

Sustainable Marine's PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)
Sustainable Marine's PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)
Sustainable Marine’s PLAT-I 6.40 floating tidal energy platform (Courtesy of Sustainable Marine)

Sustainable Marine Energy (Canada) appointed Deloitte Restructuring as trustee in charge of the administration, as the company was not able to secure the authorizations it required or agree a viable path forward with DFO that would enable it to deliver its flagship demonstration project at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) tidal energy demonstration site in the Minas Passage.

Because of this, Sustainable Marine is not able to meet its obligations to its project financing partners, the company said.

The decision means around 20 people employed by its Canadian business in Nova Scotia will lose their jobs, according to Sustainable Marine.

Recently, the firm suspended its operations at Grand Passage, while conversations with government officials and the project investors continued to take place.

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Sustainable Marine’s CEO Jason Hayman said a decision was made to place the company into voluntary bankruptcy after receiving a letter from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, which failed to provide investors with any confidence or certainty.

It did not answer questions posed to the department about the risk assessment methodology used – or shed any light on what a transparent regulatory process for the delivery of tidal energy projects in Canada could look like.

Hayman added that the firm has attempted to work with DFO over the past five years to come up with different approaches to press ahead, including staged deployments with various forms of environmental monitoring.

He further highlighted that DFO’s claims of ‘openness’ towards a short-term installation of a single turbine in the Minas Basin, for continued environmental monitoring, have been propagated for more than 18 months.

Yet, repeated discussions have never materialized into authorization, in spite of Sustainable Marine’s strong desire to proceed, the company said.

“We are enormously disappointed to be closing our business in Canada. Despite extensive environmental monitoring with no harm to marine life observed, DFO will not provide permission to proceed, nor a clear pathway or regulatory framework for the project to continue.

“This is a great shame considering not only our technology is ready, but there have also been massive investments in the tools and infrastructure necessary to deliver the project. I hope that officials within DFO will be able to come forward with a clear explanation to our team of 20 hard-working people in Nova Scotia, who have lost their jobs, plus many good and well-meaning people in Canada, Germany and the UK who have invested in the development of a clean and ultra-low environmental impact means of generating electricity.

“Like us, these people believed we were operating in a jurisdiction which places a high-value on transparency and science-based decision making, that wanted to accelerate the deployment of these types of solutions to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“In spite of this, Sustainable Marine’s efforts in Canada remain a huge success. We have proved what some thought was impossible, providing a pathway to generate clean, predictable tidal energy in a safe and effective manner. We are frustrated that we won’t get to see the benefits of years of hard work. As technology innovators, we are used to solving problems and developing solutions. However, in order to get these solutions deployed and functioning for everyone’s benefit we need policy makers and regulators to innovate as well.

“I would like to thank our employees, and community, Indigenous and industry partners who worked with us to advance our projects at Grand Passage and at FORCE,” said Hayman.

To secure the site at Grand Passage and to ensure no lasting environmental impact, the PLAT-I platforms have now been placed into storage, with all equipment removed from the seabed at the site, the company noted.

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