Tidal turbine generating first electricity in the Bay of Fundy

December 15, 2016

On November 22nd, the underwater turbine that was put in place two weeks prior started generating energy in the Bay of Fundy. The turbine is part of a joint venture test project by OpenHydro and Emera and is the first in-stream tidal turbine in North America. The hydro power was successfully connected to Nova Scotia’s energy grid at the Fundy Ocean Resource Centre for Energy (FORCE) near Parrsboro after an initial failed attempt with a smaller test turbine in 2009.

FORCE is Canada’s leading test centre for in-stream tidal energy technology. According to the FORCE website, in-stream devices are one of the three most common tidal power technologies used today. These devices make use of the kinetic energy in the flow of the water to power turbines, comparable to a windmill’s use of moving air. These devices are removable, can be gradually scaled up, and have lower potential costs and ecological impact compared to another common tidal power technology, barrages.

The Telegram reported that the test project “marks a turning point for Canada’s renewable energy sector,” according to the provincial government. “This is a proud and historic moment in Nova Scotia's global leadership in the responsible development of a renewable energy source,” Nova Scotia Energy Minister Michel Samson said as quoted by the media outlet. “As we make the first in-stream tidal energy connection to the Canadian grid, we are ushering in a new era in marine renewable energy.”

The article quotes that more than 300 people have been employed on the project. “It's a promising economic driver and an important local source of clean energy with benefits for the whole province,” Nancy Tower, chief corporate development officer of Emera Inc. told the news source.

In terms of ecological impact, the provincial government said that “monitoring at other tidal sites around the world has not observed a single collision between ocean life and turbines in a marine environment” in a statement to The Telegram.

A second test turbine will be installed in 2017. The turbines each weigh a thousand tonnes and are about five storeys tall. They are expected to generate enough electricity to power 1000 homes, displacing the need to burn approximately 2000 tonnes of coal and eliminating 6000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.  Click here to hear from Tom Knox, Founder of EMO Marine Technologies Ltd. about their work with FORCE to help monitor the tides in the Bay of Fundy.

Halifax is known as Canada’s Ocean City. Our ocean economy is worth one-eighth of our provincial GDP and employs approximately 35,000 people. Nova Scotia has the most ocean intensive economy in the country, with more than 200 local companies working in the ocean science and technology sector including fisheries, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, shipbuilding, and maritime security. The private and public sectors are investing more than $23.5 billion in major projects in Nova Scotia’s ocean sector including the construction of the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), and billions are being invested in offshore and in-stream tidal energy.