Tidal power firms promote local economic impact

John DeMings jdemings@digbycourier.ca
Published on March 28, 2014

Lightweight horizontal axis turbines and related equipment for production of 2.5MW of electrical power in high tidal flow velocities.

Black Rock Tidal Power illustration

OpenHydro, the tidal technology company, says it will proceed with plans to deploy a 4 megawatt tidal array in the Minas Basin in 2015 capable of providing energy to over 1,000 customers in Nova Scotia.

In a news release today, OpenHydro said the array will consist of two 16-metre (2MW) commercial scale turbines similar to those it has now operating off the coast of France.

The province’s energy department announced today (March 28) that OpenHydro is one of the two groups allotted demonstration berths at the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy test site in the Minas Basin.

Black Rock Tidal Power, a local company with international partners, will install the second demonstration project.

OpenHydro, together with Nova Scotia-based energy company Emera, has Irving Shipbuilding, Irving Equipment and Atlantic Towing as key local industrial partners.

The group is looking to use its initial demonstration project as the first phase of a commercial scale project, which—subject to regulatory approvals—will see the array grow to 300MW.

OpenHydro said it is committed to establishing a local manufacturing hub in the Bay of Fundy area using local skills. It predicts that 950 direct and indirect jobs will be created as the project moves to commercial scale.

The provincial government has signaled that Digby is the port of choice to service the tidal industry in Nova Scotia.

Thierry Kalanquin, executive chairman of OpenHydro, says the project represents an important step in building a local tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia and a next step in the development of commercial tidal farms in the region.

Black Rock Tidal Power, a local company with international partners, says it will test inexpensive small and robust tidal turbines that are semi-submerged, floating and freely rotating in the ocean flow.

On its website, the company says the first platform carrying 16 of 36 turbines will be fabricated, tested and deployed in 2015. 

Extension of the platform to its full capacity of 2.5 MW with 36 turbines and the start of construction for the second platform will follow in 2016 after a  reasonable test period in the Minas Passage.

 “We believe this will change the way the world looks at tidal power,” said Black Rock  general manager Martin Baldus.

Most of the existing tidal current energy systems deployed to date are single turbines designed to rest on the seabed. The single-turbine approach requires enormous machines to operate. In turn, significant capital is required to construct, transport, and maintain, the turbines.

Black Rock said no heavy-lift vessels are required for installation of the smaller turbines. The platform is towed to the site, where an arm is lowered and then only the cable connection is required to complete the installation.

 Allswater Marine Engineering of Bedford will be in charge of the overall management of the project in partnership with five other Nova Scotia companies. These companies will provide detailed design, project installation, and maintenance services for the generator platform.

“Our success is founded on building local relationships and enabling equally significant opportunities for Nova Scotians to play an increasingly vital role in this initiative,” Baldus said.