Tidal Power In The Bay Of Fundy  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

The Amherst Citizen has an article on a planned new tidal power development in the Bay Of Fundy - Tidal turbines expected to be in by fall ‘09. The comment about trying to stop the drift of young people from the area to work in the tar sand pits of Canada is an interesting one.

This area’s most promising energy resource - the tide - could help keep another of the area’s most precious resources - its youth - according to representatives of Minas Basin Pulp and Power.

John Woods, vice-president of the company’s energy department, was one of several representatives speaking to a packed house at the Parrsboro legion on Thursday night, July 24, during an information session to update those interested in the development of an in stream tidal power test site nearby.

“This is the reason why young people won’t have to leave here anymore for the tar sands in Alberta,” Woods told the crowd of about 125 people.

The company is still working on its environmental impact assessment before selecting the exact locations for the turbine, although consultant and marine geologist Gordon Fader confirmed that the sites will be in the Minas Channel, most likely in the area between Cape Sharp and Black Rock.

The company is also waiting on some equipment, mainly transmission cable to bring the power to land, but hopes to have the turbines in the water by fall of 2009, according to Woods. He said they are dealing with two different suppliers.

“We don’t know yet where the site is, and without that we don’t know how much cable we need,” he explained. “Without that we can’t even get the company to talk to us because they are so busy. Until we know what we want they won’t talk to us, but we think we’re going to have that answer in the next six weeks.”

The presentation included detailed graphic images of the ocean floor in the Minas Basin, explaining why the site selection process needs to be painstaking and cautious, due to factors such as geology, topography and currents.

Oceanographer Simon Melrose spoke of the only other test site of its kind in Europe, which he said has already created spin-offs in the local community, as young people have gained employment through studying and designing the technology.

While stopping short of confirming that it would be located in Parrsboro, they said that a tidal power site here would likely come with an educational interpretive centre that would be of great tourism benefit for the area. Woods likened it to the wind generating facility in North Cape, P.E.I., which he said draws 30-40,000 visitors every year.

“The facility could be either right on the shore, or it could be in Halifax,” said Woods. “We think it should go right on the shore. We’re now starting to look at landfall, and our view is to have it on the water’s edge, so, when people come, it’s all right there.”

Fader described the Bay of Fundy as the “mother lode of tidal energy in the world,” and said the energy collected in their test turbine to be installed will run ashore to the substation in Parrsboro.

Having studied the Bay of Fundy for the past 30 years, Fader spoke with excitement about how far they have come, and where the future lies. “Now we have the knowledge and information that will allow us to understand exactly what is going on there with geology, currents, and biology, so we can make the right decisions,” he said. “We still have a lot more to do, but this is a glimpse at where we sit in the geological world.”

Several questions from the crowd were answered, including whether or not the bottom conditions will remain the same for where the turbines will be located, the noise and vibrations that could be created by the turbines, and the effects ice in the winter might have on them.

All factors are being studied carefully but are not expected to become major problems, the audience was told. “This facility will be the best in the world,” he said. “Hold on, because ocean energy is a large resource, larger than wind, and you’re sitting on the largest resource in the world. There is a lot of potential here, and I can’t overestimate it.”

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