Cape Sharp Tidal can’t say when its turbine will go back in the water

Cape Sharp’s 300 tonne 2MW turbine sits on a 700 tonne base with the Turbine Control Centre attached

Cape Sharp’s tidal turbine, recovered from the Minas Passage on June 15, is still undergoing repairs and upgrades in the harbour at Saint John, N.B. and the company can’t say when it might be re-deployed at its testing site west of Parrsboro.

“Since the recovery of the Cape Sharp Tidal turbine, we have been taking the time needed to perform a detailed evaluation of the unit in port,” Stacey Pineau, who speaks for the company, wrote in an e-mail.

She added that the exterior of the turbine is in good condition, but it appears the strong currents in the Minas Passage detached 10, three-foot-long anodes from the turbine’s rotor. Anodes are made of metals that help prevent corrosion.

“Assessing and modifying the positions of the anodes on the turbine is one area we had planned to investigate as part of the retrieval of this unit,” Pineau added.

The company says it is also upgrading electrical components in the Turbine Control Centre, which converts raw power from the generator into the alternating current that is compatible with the Nova Scotia Power grid. In addition, the TCC sends operational and environmental sensor data to shore through a sub-sea cable.

Pineau said Cape Sharp’s second turbine is also undergoing modifications in Saint John, and the company can’t say when it might be deployed.

Meantime, in its first community newsletter published today, Cape Sharp is upbeat about the potential for harnessing the world’s highest tides, but does not dwell on problems that have affected the project.

For example, in its first seven weeks of operation, Cape Sharp sold only 5.4 megawatt hours of electricity to Nova Scotia Power worth $2,862. (See: Minas Passage tidal power off to bumpy start, figures show.)

And, it took the company about two months to recover its turbine from the Minas Passage after discovering that it had become entangled in a mooring line.

Fishermen complained that the recovery operation disrupted their lobster season.

They also pointed out that the company had assured a Nova Scotia judge that the turbine could be raised during the 12-hour course of a single tidal cycle if it were found to be causing environmental problems.

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6 Responses to Cape Sharp Tidal can’t say when its turbine will go back in the water

  1. Percy Best says:

    Seems like Cape Sharp is in the Bay of Fundy ‘way over it’s head’. Hoping for a much less fish/mammal intrusive prototype to appear soon from them or others for the good of the future of our incredible Bay and all that lives within its amazing waters.

  2. Nathan Ayer says:

    I’m currently reading an Environment Canada report from 1979 about the state of the environment in Atlantic Canada at that time. In the chapter on energy production they note some of the early developments in tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy and cite the great potential for the future. Amazing to think that nearly 40 years later we are still testing single prototypes and the Bay of Fundy is still smashing them! I wonder what the realistic timeline is for commercial-scale production, if at all? 10 more years? 20? Are we putting our eggs in the wrong renewable energy basket, or is tidal just a technological leap away from being reality? Given the delays in hydro from Muskrat Falls, Nova Scotia needs a serious assessment of other renewable energy alternatives, and I’m curious where tidal fits in reality?

  3. Gordon Heffler - Halifax says:

    This gets more rediculous by the minute….what a total boondoggle of money…this project is like the Bluenose rudder on steroids….Wake up and give it up before something really bad happens!!

  4. Jamie Ross says:

    I don’t think the technical issues they are having are major ones so I expect them to get the turbines back in the water when they are ready. The testing last year was complicated by the substation upgrade by Nova Scotia Power so I would’t worry about power to the grid. There is a lot of misinformation floating around the NS community but the real issue is not whether they can make it work (I am confident they can) but can it be done at a cost which is affordable .. that will take a bit more time to sort out. As far as environmental concerns, I think removing the Annapolis Royal causeway and tidal plant would help the fisheries a lot at the moment..

    • Nathan Ayer says:

      Thanks Jamie. I’m curious, what gives you confidence that they will make it work? I’m starting to run out of confidence that this is technologically feasible for the Bay of Fundy? Do you know if this type of turbine has been successfully deployed elsewhere? I’d just like to know more about why you are confident they can make this work.

      • Jamie Ross says:

        I worked on the Cape Sharp turbines so I am familiar with the technical issues encountered and none were what I consider major issues. (I previously worked in the US space program for about 30 years). Similar systems from Atlantic Resources and other developers are about at the same stage of development (pre-production moving to production). OpenHydro is owned by Naval Group Energies which, in turn, is backed by the French government and they are both serious and have the deep pockets to push tidal turbine development into production.

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