Nova Scotia issues call for tidal energy demonstration projects

The province is looking for companies to test their renewable energy systems in the Bay of Fundy and the Bras d'Or Lakes.

New program will allow for up to 10 megawatts of energy generated in Bras d'Or Lakes and Bay of Fundy

Sandra Farwell, the director of sustainable and renewable energy with the provincial Energy Department, says she thinks it will take two to five years for the applicants to get approved and get their devices in the water. (CBC)

The province is looking for companies to test their renewable energy systems in the Bay of Fundy and the Bras d'Or Lakes.

The program will allow for a total of up to 10 megawatts of energy generated from the two sites.

"We've seen new innovative designs in tidal and the industry is moving very quickly in advancing the sector and we wanted to provide an opportunity for these companies to test their devices and prove them," said Sandra Farwell, the director of sustainable and renewable energy with the provincial Energy Department.

Big Moon Power hopes to test its system in the waters off Cape Split. (Big Moon Power)

One of the reasons behind the call for applicants is that the berths at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy in the Minas Passage are all occupied.

One of the companies interested in testing its system is Big Moon Power. Rather than using a turbine, its technology consists of two parts: a generator on land with a drum that holds a long rope, and an object in the water that looks like a deck barge with a perpendicular piece of steel attached to the bottom called a Kinetic Keel.

Big Moon Power's Jamie MacNeil says he thinks tidal energy is better than other forms of renewable energy like solar and wind because it's more predictable. (CBC)

The keel moves with the tidal current, and the rope on the drum extends as the barge moves from shore and retracts as it gets closer. Either way, as the drum turns, power is generated.

Jamie MacNeil is a manager with Big Moon. He said tidal energy is better than other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar because it's more predictable.

"With tidal energy, we can tell a utility that in two years, in five years, in five minutes, what energy we can produce through our unit and that level of predictability, which they don't get from wind, which they don't get from solar, makes tidal power very important," he said.

The provincial energy department said it will probably take two to five years to use up the 10 MW of total energy available under this program, and approvals will happen in 30 to 90 days.  

​Big Moon is hoping to do its testing in the waters off Cape Split.

With files from Paul Withers and Michael Gorman