Tidal Energy and Community Development

Dr. John Colton has been exploring the development of a Social License among stakeholders including community, industry, and government in Nova Scotia with respect to renewable energy. The term social license originated 15 years ago in the mining industry context but has since been widely adopted by government and industry to address a range of stakeholder issues. At one time, the promise of jobs was enough to gain community support for industrial development but more is expected from industry and government today. Economic and  socio-political legitimacy, interactional trust, and institutionalized trust, are key factors that underlie a social license. They are increasingly perceived as the necessary ingredients to advance renewable energy development such as tidal energy.

Dr. Colton has co-authored two major projects that support the development of a social license with respect to tidal energy development in Nova Scotia. These include the Community and Business Toolkit for Tidal Energy Development and the Tidal Energy Community Engagement Handbook. He has also was the lead author on the report Energy projects, social license, public acceptance and regulatory systems in Canada: A white paper (2016) supported by The School of Public Policy  at the University of Calgary. More recently, Dr. Colton is exploring metrics to assess the impacts of energy infrastructure on communities.

The Community and Business Toolkit for Tidal Energy Development contains a series of modules that describe opportunities and strategies for communities and businesses to become involved in tidal energy development. The modules also provide relevant advice, checklists and links. The Tidal Energy Community Engagement Handbook was developed to support community and stakeholder engagement for the Community Feed-in Tariff program and to specifically support those projects related to tidal energy development. This handbook provides a step-by-step guide to community engagement for usage by all stakeholders involved in tidal power development including municipal, provincial, industry and academic interests.

Students have been involved in a range of activities with these projects including roles in helping to facilitate community meetings as well as conducting research and attending sessions aimed at providing a renewable energy vision for local communities. Dr. Colton also supports both honours and graduate students exploring renewable energy and social acceptance.

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