Sustainable Marine Energy, a pioneer in tidal energy technology, has been placed into voluntary bankruptcy stating it faced insurmountable challenges in obtaining regulatory approvals for its flagship demonstration project in Nova Scotia, Canada. 

The company, known for its innovative floating in-stream tidal platform called PLAT-I, successfully harnessed the powerful tidal currents in the Bay of Fundy, becoming the first company to deliver tidal energy to Nova Scotia's grid. The milestone marked a significant advancement in marine energy technology.

However, the company's plans to expand its operations and deliver its demonstration project at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) tidal energy demonstration site in the Minas Passage hit a roadblock. It was unable to secure the necessary authorizations or establish a viable path forward with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The lack of progress prevented the company from meeting its obligations to project financing partners, ultimately leading to the decision to file for voluntary bankruptcy.

Sustainable Marine Energy said it had diligently followed a step-by-step approach, conducting extensive research, development, and testing to prove the low environmental impact of its technology. It received significant grant support from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and operated under a license provided by the Province of Nova Scotia. However, despite these efforts, the company could not reach a satisfactory agreement with DFO regarding the deployment and operation of its tidal energy project.

“We are enormously disappointed to be closing our business in Canada” said Sustainable Marine CEO Jason Hayman. “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.”

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.