Origin of FERN
Over the last few years, there has been rapidly growing interest in tidal stream energy technology testing and demonstration in the Bay of Fundy from governments (federal, Nova Scotia, Maine) and device/project developers. With its challenging environmental conditions and growing community of tidal energy and marine experts, the Bay of Fundy has the potential to become a world hub for tidal energy research.
However, experts have long recognized the need for an objective, coordinated and collaborative research approach to address the significant ecological, socio-economic and engineering uncertainties and challenges associated with tidal energy activities in the Bay.
In 2008, the Bay of Fundy Tidal Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was completed, which identified a number of environmental issues related to marine energy extraction that needed to be resolved through research and monitoring. In order to address those issues, the SEA recommended the creation of a Fundy Tidal Energy Research Committee to coordinate efforts to address the environmental and technological challenges of tidal energy developments in the Bay of Fundy. At the same time, a proposal was made for a Nova Scotia-based network to address environmental issues of tidal power proposals specifically in the Bay of Fundy.
As a result of this interest, the FERN concept was established at a "tidal energy research priorities" workshop held at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in October 2008, at which time a Steering Committee was formed, with members from academia and the government research sector.The Terms of Reference and organizational structure were subsequently amended at a steering committee meeting in August 2010 to be able to more efficiently address the knowledge gaps and priorities in the sector.
With the hiring of a Coordinator, FERN officially launched Fall 2010.