Work crews successfully lowered a 300 tonne OpenHydro turbine and its 700 tonne base into the Minas Passage this morning during a four-hour operation at ebb tide.
The turbine slipped beneath the calm, blue surface and came to rest on the seabed at 10:40 a.m.
A beaming Jeremy Poste, OpenHydro country manager welcomed the deployment.
“My first steps in Canada, in Nova Scotia were two-and-a-half years ago, so it has been a long journey,” Poste said.
“That’s definitely a successful deployment, safe and successful, and the operation went very well,” he added.
The 2MW turbine, the first of two Cape Sharp turbines, will operate from its undersea berth at the tidal test site managed by the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE).
Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. is a partnership between the French-owned OpenHydro and Emera Inc., the parent company of Nova Scotia Power.
The deployment came exactly five years to the day after the official opening of the FORCE visitor centre, about eight kilometres west of Parrsboro, N.S.
FORCE general manager, Tony Wright, said he was pleased the deployment went so well.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment, a very complex marine operation, a lot of things had to go right and it did,” he said. “I think it’s something that the Cape Sharp team should be very proud of.”
On Tuesday, crews will begin connecting the turbine to electrical cables and if all goes according to plan, the energy that it generates from the world’s highest tides should start flowing onto the Nova Scotia Power grid within the next couple of weeks.
“We’re still in a demonstration phase for this new technology,” Tony Wright told Warktimes.
“We’ve just seen the first grid-connected turbine be deployed,” he said. “If this industry is going to grow here in Nova Scotia, two fundamental questions need to be answered. One is the viability of the technology and two is about the potential risks to the ecology.”
Wright added that the test turbine, along with monitoring technologies operated by FORCE, will generate a base of information before any decisions are made about expanding the site beyond its testing phase.
Four other tidal companies have been licensed to test various turbine designs at the FORCE site.
Jack Gallagher, a marine manager with one of them, Black Rock Tidal Power of Bedford, was on hand today to observe the OpenHydro deployment.
He says his company plans to test a different design — a platform with 40 small, lightweight turbines attached to a gravity base.
Gallagher adds that these smaller turbines will be cheaper.
“The turbines individually are a lot less expensive to manufacture and they’re easier to change out if there’s a problem.”
Gallagher says the Black Rock turbines are already being fabricated at the AECON plant in Pictou and the company hopes to deploy them in the Minas Passage next summer.