Simon Melrose says the new sensor platform for the tidal power site in the Minas Passage represents a big step forward for scientific research.
Melrose, the project manager for the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology project, says the platform has a number of sophisticated instruments to measure everything from currents and turbulence to fish and mammal movements. The measurements will help scientists and tidal developers figure out exactly what’s happening in the roiling waters around the tidal site at Black Rock.
“We’re piecing together the puzzle and this is a big step forward to take a bigger look at it and that’s the exciting part of this,” Melrose said today during an open house near the Parrsboro Wharf where the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) was displaying the larger of two sensor platforms it has developed.
The platform’s instruments are still being tested before it’s installed in the Minas Passage, possibly in October.
Melrose says testing will help scientists as they go through a steep learning curve.
“One of the challenges is making sure that the different instruments all work together,” he says adding that usually scientists use instruments in isolation.
“A lot of the instrumentation for oceanographic work now is acoustic and so it’s sending out pings and listening to the results and we have to learn to make sure that they don’t interfere with each other.”
Melrose says the larger platform on view today cost about $100,000 and carries $300,000 worth of instruments. Steel plates and sand or concrete ballast can be added to make the platform weigh up to eight tonnes so it can withstand the Fundy tides.
The cost of designing and developing the two sensor platforms came to between $6 and $7 million.
When it’s in operation, the larger platform will be lowered to the sea floor in several locations in the Minas Passage where it will take measurements for months at a time before being raised from the bottom to recover the data.
The smaller 600 kg. platform is being deployed in shallower waters and will be connected to the shore by a data cable.