Cape Sharp Tidal is planning to hold a public meeting in Parrsboro, possibly this month, to discuss its plans for, and answer questions about, the installation of two tidal turbines in the Minas Passage later this year.
Cape Sharp Tidal is a joint venture between OpenHydro, owned by a French firm, and Emera Inc., the parent company of Nova Scotia Power.
Sarah Dawson, Cape Sharp Tidal’s community relations manager, says the turbine project is still on track for 2015.
“We are on the eve of a deployment,” she adds. “It’s a fascinating project to work on and we’re so excited that the community is interested in knowing about it and we’ve committed to being part of that discussion which is one of the reasons we’re hosting the open house.”
At the moment, Dawson can’t say exactly when either or both of the turbines will be lowered into the turbulent waters near Black Rock at the tidal site overseen by the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).
“We don’t have a precise date,” she says. “While the tides are predictable, the weather is not and there are a set of optimal conditions for deployment.”
She adds that the company is looking at various time periods that would be best for the complex operations involved in lifting the huge turbines from the deck of a specially built barge and lowering them carefully into the water.
Building a tidal industry
Dawson says that so far, Cape Sharp Tidal has awarded $30 million worth of contracts to various Nova Scotia companies including Aecon Group Inc. which builds the turbines at its facility in Dartmouth before they’re trucked to Pictou where they’re assembled. Aecon employs 250 workers.
The company is also building the massive barge that will carry each of the turbines from the shipyard in Pictou all the way down to the Bay of Fundy and then up to the Minas Passage. The barge was designed by Lengkeek Vessel Engineering Inc. in Dartmouth.
Hawboldt Industries in Chester, is fabricating three heavy-lift winches that will be used to lower the turbines into the water.
Dawson explains that the 2MW turbines are bigger and heavier than the OpenHydro turbine that the ferocious tides wrecked in 2009.
“The turbine that was used in 2009 I believe was 10 metres (in diameter) and ours are 16-metre diameters,” she says. “The turbine and the sub-sea gravity foundation, the triangular piece that actually sits on the ocean floor, together, the unit weighs around 1,000 tonnes.”
Dawson says the turbines will be fitted with small sensors developed by Ocean Sonics, a company based in Great Village.
The sensors will be used to detect mammals and fish that come close to the underwater turbines. They will also listen for the sounds the turbines make so that engineers can tell if the tides are causing damage.
If the turbines are installed successfully and start feeding electricity to the Nova Scotia Power grid, it would be the first time a tidal array (consisting of more than one turbine) has transmitted power to a utility’s customers.