Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. has announced it won’t be deploying another turbine in the Minas Passage, near Parrsboro, N.S., until sometime next year “when the weather is calmer and more predictable.”
A news release issued yesterday said the company is planning its next deployment sometime before next summer.
“The next Cape Sharp tidal turbine that will be deployed is the second or ‘dry’ turbine, which hasn’t yet been in the water,” the company adds.
Work to improve efficiency and reliability
Cape Sharp deployed its first OpenHydro turbine at its test site in the Minas Passage a little less than a year ago on November 7, 2016.
Although the massive device generated some electricity for a few months, it was disconnected from the Nova Scotia Power grid on April 21, 2017 for retrieval, onshore upgrades to its Turbine Control Centre and other repairs.
However, it took Cape Sharp nearly two months to raise the turbine because of a mooring line tangled around its subsea base.
Both Cape Sharp turbines are at Saint John Harbour and no date has been set for re-deployment of the first one.
The company says work is underway to improve the “efficiency and reliability” of the second turbine.
Stacey Pineau, who speaks for the company, refused in an e-mail to specify what the work entails.
“The specific improvements we make are part of our confidential intellectual property,” she writes.
Faulty monitoring devices
Pineau did say, however, that devices to monitor the presence of fish and marine mammals within 100 metres of the turbine are being repaired or replaced.
Cape Sharp’s latest report on its environmental effects monitoring program, released on October 18th, reveals there were many problems with these devices in the five months before the turbine’s data cables were disconnected in preparation for retrieval:
- one of four hydrophones (underwater microphones) operated only intermittently, while another failed shortly after deployment
- acoustic devices called imaging sonars were pointed at the sea floor instead of capturing fish and marine mammal movements in the mid-water column; electrical interference caused interruptions in data transmission to shore-based computers interfering with analysis of the data
- a video camera mounted on the turbine was damaged shortly after deployment and failed to record any footage
In the period between April 21, when the turbine cables were disconnected and June 15, when the turbine was successfully retrieved, there was no underwater monitoring at the turbine site for the presence of marine life.
Problems being fixed
Cape Sharp spokeswoman Stacey Pineau says the various problems with the monitoring devices are being fixed as a result of all that the company has learned from its first deployment.
But Darren Porter, a weir fisherman who speaks for the group Fundy United, questions why the turbine was allowed to operate in the Minas Passage for seven months when so many of its monitoring devices weren’t working properly.
Although the auditor’s report did not deal specifically with the development of Fundy tidal power, Porter says it points to the government’s general attitude toward such projects.
“The government wants it (tidal power) even more than the companies do,” Porter says.
“The politicians want it for jobs.”