Nova Scotia gearing up to kick off tidal energy turbine tests

May 23, 2015

Last month, we reported on a study of the numerous potential economic advantages associated with growing the tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia.  Now, the province is preparing to capitalize on these benefits with the upcoming installation of two five-storey, 300-tonne, electricity-generating tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy, according to a recent Globe and Mail article.

Harnessing the power of the bay’s currents, which are among the strongest of their kind in the world, will be a giant step forward in the effort to make tidal energy a major industry in Canada. The news source explained that the turbines will be linked to the Nova Scotian power grid by way of submarine power cables installed at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.

OpenHydro kicks off turbine testing initiative

Manufactured by a consortium headed by OpenHydro, an Ireland-based tidal energy capture company, the twin structures are the first of four groups’ prototypes to be tested at the site. The partnership between Emera Inc. and OpenHydro, dubbed Cape Sharp Tidal, recently selected two businesses as part of the project’s first round of procurement awards. Aecon Group, which secured the turbine component fabrication contract, is set to develop a 1,150-tonne capacity barge that will help OpenHydro install turbines on the sea bed. Although it is headquartered in Toronto, the company has a presence in Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, Dartmouth-based Lengkeek Vessel Engineering was awarded the contract to design the aforementioned barge.

“Today’s announcement reinforces Cape Sharp Tidal’s commitment to the province of Nova Scotia and to building a global tidal energy industry in the Bay of Fundy”, said Chris Huskilson, President and CEO of Emera Inc., in a statement. “This project will provide more than just a new source of clean, reliable energy in Nova Scotia; it is contributing to the economic strength of the communities and the province.”

The Globe and Mail pointed out that this isn’t the first time OpenHydro has tried out turbines at the location, but hopes are high that the current initiative will be more successful than the last. In 2009, the blades of OpenHydro’s first $10 million prototype were ripped off by the bay’s powerful currents, the force of which the turbine’s designers had failed to anticipate.

“OpenHydro is proud to have been the first technology installed in the Bay of Fundy, and we remain convinced of the potential of the region as a major source of clean renewable energy“, said OpenHydro CEO James Ives in a statement.

tidal

Tidal energy could be a game-changer in terms of powering Nova Scotia and beyond.

Jeremy Poste, manager of OpenHydro Technology Canada, predicted that his company’s turbines will be “deployed and grid-connected by the end of 2015,” as quoted by the Globe and Mail. Once they are fully operational, the turbines will generate approximately 4 megawatts of electricity.

Hydrogen Fuel News reported earlier this year that the federal government provided OpenHydro with more than $6.3 million in funding. Atlantis Resources, which owns one of the other turbine berths at FORCE, also received financial assistance, albeit a smaller amount of $5 million.

Aside from the groups headed by OpenHydro and Atlantis Resources, Black Rock Tidal Power, Minas Energy and Marine Current Turbines also own test berths on the sea floor at FORCE, according to the Globe and Mail.

Nova Scotia to benefit most from using the FORCE

Although the Bay of Fundy initiative is expected to have a positive impact on the nation as a whole, the benefits will be especially felt in Nova Scotia and the rest of Atlantic Canada.

The Offshore Energy Research Association of Nova Scotia’s report revealed that capitalizing on tidal energy could add up to $1.7 billion to Nova Scotia’s GDP over the next 25 years, create as many as 22,000* jobs and generate as much as $815 million in direct labour income – not to mention the increased tax revenue. From an environmental perspective, a reliance on turbines placed directly in the tidal current will be vastly preferable to the current dam-based infrastructure. Specifically, tidal energy is expected to result in lower greenhouse gas emissions, more robust national energy security and a reduced dependence on fossil fuels, the report explained.

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*Note: Further investigation revealed that the 22,000 job years was misreported as 22,000 jobs.  The expected direct employment per year from this project is estimated at 600 FTEs, or 880 FTEs when indirect and induced effects are included.