Bay of Fundy sensor platforms to provide vital data for tidal turbines

Two new platforms that have been designed to provide vital information about tidal power were on display in Dartmouth, and will be essential in the installation of underwater turbines.

Before a turbine is installed, platforms are lowered into the water to get accurate data about the tides

Tom Knox, owner of EMO Marine Technologies. (CBC)

Two new platforms that have been designed to provide vital information about tidal power were on display in Dartmouth Tuesday, and will be essential in the installation of underwater turbines. 

A system of sensors have been mounted to the platforms. Alex Hay from Dalhousie University says, they will prove how turbulent the waters in the Bay of Fundy really are.

"It's a one of a kind. It doesn't exist anywhere else in the world. And the world will be waiting for these measurements," Hay told CBC News.

Before a turbine is installed, the platforms are lowered into the water so technicians can get accurate data about how powerful the tides are in a specific region.

The network of nearly a dozen sensors will feed that information back to the technicians.

"Everybody is watching," says Tom Knox, owner of EMO Marine Technologies. "Everybody who knows tidal energy, knows that the Bay of Fundy is the harshest site. So everyone is watching what we're doing."

The last time an underwater turbine was installed in the Bay of Fundy, it was torn apart by currents less than a month later.

"The knowledge of site data we had at the time was insufficient," said Tony Wright, general manager of Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy. "We underestimated the power that's in the Minas Passage."

The network of nearly a dozen sensors will feed information from this platform back to the technicians. (CBC)

The first sensor platform will be installed in the next couple of weeks, with the first turbine installed by the end of this year.

If all goes well that first turbine will be connected to a subsea cable, and will generate four megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1000 Nova Scotia homes.

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