Regional approach could aid tidal projects

John DeMings
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Developers of a tidal power project in Maine are urging a regional approach for those creating similar small scale projects in this area.

Digby County projects were the focus of a May 3 session in Digby hosted by the Annapolis Digby Economic Development Association.

John Farland, vice-president of project development with Ocean Renewable Power Co., in Eastport, Me., brought his experiences in tidal energy supply chains, suggesting there are savings possible in equipment and supplies in the fledgling industry.

He said project developers should think regionally, and sees the Bay of Fundy waters of New England and Maritime Canada holding the possibility for many smaller projects.

“Lots of the same supply chains can serve these projects and we need to share information on needs and experiences,” he said.

Farland said ORPC has added at least $8 million to the Maine economy with a project that is still in early stages, with one turbine being tested. Construction of  the turbine, a barge and monitoring gear has also involved using many of the area’s skilled workers.

The bottom line is, tidal energy is an industry that puts a lot of people to work. John Farland of Ocean Renewable Power Company of Eastport, Me.

“The bottom line is, tidal energy is an industry that puts a lot of people to work.”

Tidal energy is also attractive a lot more interest. Dana Morin, president of Fundy Tidal Inc., looked at the crowded Digby session and said, “Seven years ago, this room wouldn’t have been full, which is a good sign.”

Fundy Tidal is studying the energy potential of six sites in the county, including Petite and Grand passages on Digby Neck, as well as Digby Gut.

Morin said the main focus now is on the community feed-in tariffs being established by the province’s Utility Review Board to ensure that tidal projects are financially viable, especially since Nova Scotia Power is looking for about 100 megawatts of renewable energy.

“But we also want to see Digby County established as a focal point for tidal power research,” he said.

Organizations: Ocean Renewable Power Co., Annapolis Digby Economic Development Association, Fundy Tidal Utility Review Board Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Digby County, Eastport, Me., Bay of Fundy New England Maine

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