Andrew Younger

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Andrew Younger announced Friday the province will spend $4 million on the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy. (Paul Withers/CBC)

The Nova Scotia government announced Friday that two companies will begin work on harnessing the power of the Bay of Fundy, and that the province will spend $4 million upgrading electrical capacity at the tidal research centre.

French-owned OpenHydro, which includes Nova Scotia-based Emera as an investor, has won one of two berths up for bid to deploy tidal power technology in the Minas Passage.

The company says it will deploy a four-megawatt tidal array by 2015 to supply 1,000 Nova Scotia customers. But it has big ambitions and said it hopes to eventually expand the project to 300 megawatts.

"OpenHydro is committed to establishing a local manufacturing hub in the Bay of Fundy area using local skills and predict that 950 direct and indirect jobs will be created as the project moves to commercial scale," the company said in a statement.

In 2009 the company tried unsuccessfully to deploy a 10-tonne turbine in the Bay of Fundy, but the ultra-strong tidal flows destroyed the machinery within three weeks.

The other winning company is Halifax-based Black Rock Tidal Power. It plans to deploy small, semi-submerged turbines that rotate with the ocean flow.

"No heavy-lift vessels are required for installation,” project manager Rob Crutcher said in a statement. "The platform is towed to the site, where an arm is lowered and then only the cable connection is required to complete the installation."

The $4 million announced Friday will go to the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy, which studies in-stream tidal energy.

Energy Minister Andrew Younger said in a statement that the centre plays an important role in encouraging tidal energy companies to test their technologies in the Bay of Fundy.

"Our investments today are shaping the new tidal sector of tomorrow," Younger said.

The McNeil government has been trying to spur tidal energy development. Earlier this month the province announced a memorandum of understanding with the United Kingdom to work together on tidal research.

An existing berth-holder, Minas Energy, also announced Friday that it will develop a flotation system to deploy Siemens turbines in the Bay of Fundy.