Bay of Fundy power potential has energy companies lining up

Nova Scotia is in talks with a fifth company interested in testing a tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy as the international race to harness power continues.

The 5th International Conference on Ocean Energy is being held in Halifax until Wednesday

CEO James Ives with French owned Open Hydro, the company that has partnered with Emera. (CBC)

Nova Scotia is in talks with a fifth company interested in testing a tidal turbine in the Bay of Fundy as the international race to harness power continues.

The news emerged at the 5th International Conference on Ocean Energy is being held in Halifax until Wednesday. It’s the first time the conference has been held in North America, a sign of the global interest in the Bay of Fundy.

A total of 25 countries are attending as commercial development of tidal power gets closer to reality.

A delegation from China is led by Xia Dengwen from the National Ocean Technology Directorate. He says it's about new technology.

“For a very good opportunity to learn to understand more about new standards of ocean energy,” he said.

Open Hydro next in line

French owned Open Hydro has partnered with Emera and will be the first to try and harness power from the Bay of Fundy.

The company will deploy two turbines in the Minas Passage next year according to company CEO James Ives, who says it is a milestone.

“It has the potential to be one of the first grid connected tidal arrays of commercial scale turbines,” he said.

Electricity from Open Hydro and other developers will be brought ashore at the Fundy Research Centre near Parrsboro, which is currently running the demonstration site.

The mayor of Digby, Ben Cleveland, says the town is poised to take advantage of large and small projects. (CBC)

“Probably the key technical step at this stage is to interconnect multiple machines on to one export cable,” Ives said.

Simon DePietro with DP Energy says their goal is to harness energy by 2017. His company is the latest to enter the race, and is negotiating for a fifth berth at the test site.

“There is a race, technology wise,” he said. “Ultimately the big picture is going to be megawatts and where are they going.”

Digby and other municipalities are preparing for a small tidal turbine to start generating electricity at Digby Gut next year.

The mayor of Digby, Ben Cleveland, says the town is poised to take advantage of large and small projects.

“We are looking at forming a community trust to receive the power,” he said. “We just did $7.5-million in improvements to our port, now we are looking at expanding our port by acquiring the harbour bottom which we hope will lead to becoming a service center.”

The work may have started, but many at the conference say commercially competitive energy from the Bay of Fundy is still years away.