Tidal company holds open house in Pictou with 2nd one tonight in Parrsboro

Manager Jeremy Poste (centre) explains tidal project at open house in Pictou

OpenHydro manager Jeremy Poste (centre) explains tidal project at open house in Pictou

The manager of Canadian operations for the French-owned tidal developer OpenHydro says plans are well underway for the deployment of two turbines in the Minas Passage later this year.

During the first of four open houses last night in Pictou, Jeremy Poste said he’s excited that the project is finally coming together although he can’t predict how soon the 1,000 tonne turbines will be lowered into the turbulent waters near Black Rock.

“I can’t really say when exactly because we’ll go there when all the conditions will be there,” he said. “You know that the Bay of Fundy, in terms of sea state and weather conditions, is quite tricky, but we’ll go there by the end of the year.”

OpenHydro and Emera Inc. are partners in Cape Sharp Tidal, one of four companies that plan to deploy turbines at the site overseen by FORCE, the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.

Last night’s open house was held in Pictou because that’s where Canada’s largest publicly traded construction company, Aecon Group Inc., is assembling the turbines and building the massive barge that will carry each of them to the Bay of Fundy. Aecon built the turbine parts in Dartmouth and then had them trucked to Pictou for final assembly. The company employs 250 workers in Nova Scotia.

Tidal benefits for Parrsboro

When asked how Parrsboro will benefit from tidal development, Poste pointed to the tourists who are attracted to the FORCE site. He also suggested that the workers deploying turbines will bring money into the town.

“With all the operations that will be done in Parrsboro, with all the crews going back and forth, operating the barge, the tugs, there is something for Parrsboro to benefit from,” he said. “It’s definitely not the same activity at this time as Pictou, for instance, is taking benefit from,” he added, “but there will be people working there, there will be people going to see the people working there, so at this stage that’s maybe what they have to look at.”

Green Party candidate

TV footage of OpenHydro turbines

TV footage of OpenHydro turbine models

David Hachey, the federal Green Party candidate in the riding that includes Pictou, seemed enthusiastic about the tidal project after talking to Jeremy Poste at last night’s open house.

“I’d say this is an amazing opportunity for Nova Scotia,” he said. “I think that we could really be an energy superpower. I know Stephen Harper has wanted to make us into a petroleum superpower, which I think has been misguided. I think renewable’s the way of the future and Nova Scotia is rich in potential.”

However, Derek Andrews another visitor to the open house said that while he recognizes we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels, he is concerned about the potential effects of tidal turbines on marine life including fish and whales. He also said we need to weigh the benefits of renewable energy against some of its costs.

“All of these alternative technologies have got some downside,” he said, “like wind turbines, they use an awful lot of concrete underground and an awful lot of steel above ground.” He added it’s important to consider other factors including the life span of technologies such as tidal turbines to make sure there’s a good trade-off between costs and benefits.

Events in Parrsboro

Cape Sharp Tidal will hold its second open house this evening from 7 to 9 at the Parrsboro Fire Hall.

On Thursday and Friday, the Cumberland Energy Authority, will be holding free symposiums on alternative energy sources. The Thursday session will be held in Springhill, while Friday’s meeting, on the potential benefits of tidal energy in Nova Scotia, will be held at the Parrsboro Legion beginning at 9 a.m. For more information and to register click here.

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