Bay of Fundy to get three test turbines
Jan 9, 2008 - David Ehrlich - cleantech.com
North America's first tidal power test site could
be up and running as early as next year.
The government of Nova Scotia, Canada, picked three
candidates to get a first shot at testing their tidal
power generators in the Bay of Fundy, which has the
highest tides in the world.
It would be North America's first tidal power test
site and it could be up and running as early as next
year with turbines from Canada, the U.S. and Ireland.
"They're planning to build four subsea cables, so
there's four potential berths. One may be used as
a redundant cable, but there is a possibility that
we'll put in four machines," Matt Lumley, a spokesman
for the Nova Scotia Department of Energy, told Cleantech.com.
Before anything can go in the water, the site and
the companies still need to pass some regulatory hurdles,
which is why the province is referring to the companies
One of those hurdles is the the completion of a strategic
environmental assessment, due in April (see Nova Scotia
looks at tidal power).
Hantsport, Nova Scotia's Minas Basin Pulp and Power
will be handling the construction of the $12 million
facility, which will connect all the devices to the
province's electric grid.
But Minas Basin isn't just building the facility,
it's also one of the candidates picked to test a turbine.
The company, which makes recycled paperboard products
and already operates two hydro plants, plans to use
a system from Annapolis, Md.'s UEK.
UEK, which stands for Underwater Electric Kite, has
a turbine that moves like a kite, anchored to the
seabed by a cable.
The size of UEK's turbine was not disclosed.
Nova Scotia Power, which provides electricity for
most of the province, is teamed up with Ireland's
OpenHydro Group for a 1 megawatt demonstration.
OpenHydro already has a turbine in the water at
what is currently the world's only tidal test site,
the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, Scotland,
which also tests wave power units.
The third candidate for the Bay of Fundy project
is Vancouver, British Columbia-based Clean Current,
which will test its own Mark III turbine.
Clean Current said its turbine is capable of delivering
400 gigawatt hours of electricity per year.
Take a look at a Clean Current turbine being installed
at the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve in British Columbia
The companies beat out four other groups that had
hoped to be first in the pool.
They're all trying to get in on Nova Scotia's target
of generating nearly 20 percent of its electricity
from renewable sources by 2013.
The potential for tidal power in the Bay of Fundy
is big, with about 100 billion tons of seawater flowing
in and out of the bay each day, more than the combined
flow of the world's freshwater rivers, according to
Nova Scotia's Department of Energy.
But those strong tides put some limits on when a
turbine can go in the water.
"You have an hour a day when you can actually put
this in," said Lumley. "Two one-hour windows a day,
and probably one of them is during daylight."
When fully developed, the department said the bay
could generate 300 megawatts of electricity, enough
energy to power close to 100,000 homes.
The project will be funded by $5 million from the
government, along with a $3 million zero-interest
loan from Calgary, Alberta-based oil and gas producer
EnCana (NYSE: ECA).
The remaining $4 million will be cost-shared by the
three tidal power candidates.
On top of the facility costs, the test candidates
are likely to spend $10 million to $15 million each
for the construction, installation and testing of
"We'd like to see the technology demonstrated for
at least two years," said Lumley.
He said the companies will be able to renew their
terms for an additional two years at the site.
While the participating groups may move on to pursue
commercial-scale projects, the test site will continue
to serve demonstration units.
Once construction is complete, Minas Basin will hand
over the facility to a not-for-profit corporation
that will will manage the operations.