Nova Scotia

No word on fate of N.S. turbine as OpenHydro's future questioned

An Irish High Court judge has ordered an interim examiner to look at the possibility of reviving OpenHydro Group Ltd. after a petition was made by minority shareholders of the company.

OpenHydro, which had partnered with Emera on the Cape Sharp Tidal Project, filed for liquidation last month

A specially designed barge is being used to move a new turbine into position in Minas Passage for a demonstration project by Cape Sharp Tidal Venture, whose main investor, OpenHydro, filed for liquidation earlier this summer. (Cape Sharp Tidal)

The future of an Irish company responsible for a tidal turbine in the Minas Passage is murkier than ever, while questions persist around the fate of the turbine itself.

On Aug. 17, an Irish High Court judge ordered an interim examiner to look at the possibility of reviving OpenHydro Group Ltd. after a petition was made by minority shareholders of the company.

OpenHydro, which filed for liquidation last month, had been working with Nova Scotia's Emera Inc. on the Cape Sharp Tidal Venture — an attempt to test tidal powers in the Bay of Fundy.

Cape Sharp Tidal's second turbine was hooked up to the power grid on July 24. Two days later, OpenHydro filed for liquidation in Ireland after its parent company, Naval Energies, announced it was no longer funding tidal power projects.

The Irish High Court ordered provisional liquidators Grant Thornton to begin dissolving OpenHydro.

Emera, which had a 20 per cent stake in the venture, announced on Aug. 13 it was pulling out of the project.

Parent company not involved

The Cape Sharp Tidal turbine is spinning, unmonitored, in the Minas Passage. (Cape Sharp Tidal)

Dora Gauer, spokesperson for Naval Energies, said the company was not involved in the request for an interim examiner.

"Naval Energies has decided on July 25th to put an end to its investments in the tidal-turbine activity. As a result, liquidation proceedings concerning OpenHydro were initiated in the Irish High Court and by decision of this court on July 26th, the judicial liquidation process has begun," Gauer said in an email.

"Some OpenHydro minority shareholders made a petition at the High Court of Ireland to nominate an interim examiner. Naval Energies was not asked by the petitioners to join their request."

Turbine staying put for now

Karen Jones, spokesperson for the provisional liquidators, confirmed the liquidators are still in place but wouldn't comment further.

At this point, no one knows exactly what will happen to the turbine if OpenHydro is done for good.

Nova Scotia Energy Minister Derek Mombourquette said last week there are no plans to retrieve the turbine as of yet, and the province has no strict deadlines in place saying when the turbine will have to be removed.

Mombourquette did confirm there is a security trust in place to retrieve the turbine, but wouldn't say how much money is in the fund.

No weekly monitoring

The environmental assessment requires weekly monitoring of the turbine but it's currently unable to power the necessary equipment to do so. Mombourquette would not say how long the turbine can stay unmonitored.

A spokesperson for the provincial Energy Department said Monday the department is aware of what's unfolding in the Irish court system.

"We will continue to monitor this process and ensure Nova Scotia's interests are represented, and those involved are aware of the province's regulatory requirements," JoAnn Alberstat said in an email.​

About the Author

Emma Davie

Reporter

Emma Davie is a reporter, producer and videojournalist in Halifax. She loves listening to, and telling stories from people in the Maritimes. You can reach her at emma.davie@cbc.ca.

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