Nova Scotia

Bay of Fundy power turbine to be installed next month

The first of two towering turbines will be installed next month off the coast of Nova Scotia, a company official announced Thursday.

The turbines are expected to make enough electricity for about 1,000 homes

This giant turbine is destined to capture energy from the moon's gravity in the Bay of Fundy's tidal bore. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

​The first of two towering turbines designed by Cape Sharp Tidal to harness the immense power of the Bay of Fundy will be installed next month off the coast of Nova Scotia, a company official announced Thursday.

Sarah Dawson, the community relations manager for the project, said one of the five-storey high, two-megawatt turbines built in Pictou by Aecon Atlantic Industrial Inc., will be loaded on a barge during the first week of June and travel around the province until it reaches the test site near Parrsboro.

That trip will take a couple of weeks.

"Our project aims to deploy two two-megawatt hydro devices at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy site, just west of Parrsboro, and we're aiming to put both of those turbines in the water this year," Dawson said.

This is a screen grab of animation from OpenHydro, which shows the turbine being lowered onto the floor of the Bay of Fundy. (OpenHydro)

Safety 'top priority'

The turbine, which is 16-metres in diameter and weighs 1,000 tonnes, was originally scheduled for deployment last year, but Dawson said it was delayed by weather.

"Safety is always our top priority and we'll install them when we have the best confidence that we can do it safely and successfully," she said.

Cape Sharp Tidal — which is a partnership of OpenHydro and Emera — has not revealed the total cost of the project, but Dawson said the company has committed to spend 70 per cent of the overall cost in Nova Scotia.

Power for 1,000 homes

She said once connected to the power grid, the turbines will provide enough electricity for about 1,000 homes.

The new turbines are a bigger and more robust version of a turbine tested by OpenHydro and Nova Scotia Power in 2009 that was heavily damaged by the Bay of Fundy's powerful currents.

Meanwhile, Black Rock Tidal Power Inc. has announced that its tidal power platform will also be built by Aecon and installed at the same test site near Parrsboro in 2017.

'Easy maintenance access'

Their TRITON S40 uses 40 smaller turbines, each about four metres in diameter, and is expected to generate 2.5 megawatts.

"Because the TRITON can be easily brought to the surface it allows for easy maintenance access. The use of multiple small turbines together with TRITON's maintenance approach reduces both capital and maintenance costs," said Nils Hirsch, general manager of Black Rock Tidal Power.

Similar project failed in 2009

He said a lot has been learned from the failed project in 2009, and his company's unique design has been successful under simulation tests.

"The platform as it is designed will survive the forces in the Bay of Fundy. It is considering the current speed, the wave impact, as well as turbulence and wind load," he said.

A total of five companies from around the world have been awarded a demonstration site at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy test facility.

It is considered Canada's leading research centre for tidal energy.