$10M secured to build subsea monitoring platform for Bay of Fundy9/14/2012
A $10-million tide washed into the Bay of Fundy on Thursday.
The money will fund what is believed to be the world’s first underwater monitoring platform, which, it is hoped, will help finally make commercial tidal power in the bay a reality.
“When it comes to designing a successful tidal turbine for the Bay of Fundy, the more we know, the better,” John Woods, vice-president for energy development for Minas Basin Pulp and Power, told a Halifax renewable energy conference.
“This project will take our understanding to the next level.”
The federal government will put up half the $10-million budget for the platform.
Another $3 million will come from Encana Corp., the operator of the Deep Panuke offshore gas field. Encana will convert an earlier loan for the same amount to the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, the provincial agency overseeing test projects near Parrsboro, into a grant.
The rest of the money comes from the research centre and in-kind support from Ocean Networks Canada, one of the project’s partners.
When complete, the platform is meant to provide information about conditions in the waters of the Bay of Fundy — home of the world’s highest tides. The centre operates a turbine demonstration site there.
The subsea monitoring platform, slated to be in place within two years, will collect information on everything from currents and water turbulence to marine life behaviour and movement.
So far, Nova Scotia Power is the only participant to have tested a turbine in Fundy waters. Its $10-million device from Irish company OpenHydro was deployed in 2009 and the tides quickly damaged it.
Nova Scotia Power gave up its spot in the project at the end of last year.
The three other developers — Minas Basin Pulp and Power, Alstom Hydro of France and Atlantis Resources Corp. of the United Kingdom — went back to the drawing board to rework their projects. That has created delays getting more machines in the water.
Alstom is slated to put a test turbine into the water next year, at which time the device would be hooked up to the Nova Scotia Power system.
But an Alstom spokeswoman in Montreal said earlier this month it is still too soon to say when the one-megawatt device, still at the company’s test facility in France, will be put in the water here.
Alstom is partnered with Clean Current of Vancouver on the project.
On Thursday, the provincial government said it was seeking proposals from companies interested in taking over Nova Scotia Power’s spot and becoming the fourth developer in the tidal test program.
The province’s marine renewable strategy, unveiled in May, includes getting 300 megawatts of electricity from commercial tidal power, starting in 2020.
That is enough electricity to power 100,000 homes and represents 10 per cent of the province’s energy needs.
Last month, IT International Telecom of Halifax completed a trial run of the $11-million subsea cable it will be laying in the Bay of Fundy to connect tidal electricity to the provincial power grid.
(The Chronicle Herald)