Cape Sharp Tidal Inc. successfully deployed its second massive 2MW turbine Sunday afternoon at its test site in the turbulent waters of the Minas Passage, eight kilometres west of Parrsboro, N.S.
“We had a very good day today,” said a smiling Alasdair McLean, country manager for the turbine developer OpenHydro. “Things went according to plan.”
The specially built barge carrying the 16-metre, 300 tonne turbine attached to its 700 tonne base was slowly towed into position and kept there by two tugs as the tide ebbed shortly after 1 p.m. The turbine disappeared underwater at 1:45 and an hour later, McLean declared it was resting in its proper position about 27 metres below the surface.
“We’ve had months of preparation for today,” he said, “and it’s really satisfying to see it all get pulled together.”
This is the second Cape Sharp turbine to be installed in the Minas Passage.
Stacey Pineau, who speaks for Cape Sharp, said the second turbine underwent substantial modifications to improve its performance.
“Everything we learned from the first turbine, we applied to this one,” she said. “There were upgrades to its operating efficiency and its environmental monitoring devices.”
Tony Wright, general manager of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE), the non-profit organization that oversees the tidal test site, observed Sunday’s deployment from a support vessel. He said having another turbine in the water is especially important for FORCE.
“We get to do our job which is monitoring the potential effects of the turbine on the environment, implementing our environmental monitoring program and really understanding where this industry can go,” Wright said. “This is another step in us progressing towards understanding if tidal energy is possible for Nova Scotia.”
Not everyone was cheering, however, as the Cape Sharp turbine went into the water.
Mark Taylor, who fishes lobster out of Halls Harbour, says he lost 100 traps worth $235 each when Cape Sharp vessels cut them off during the four-day operation.
He adds that even though the company gave him four to six days notice to move his extra-heavy, 310 pound traps, it wasn’t nearly enough time.
“In that four-five-six days, there was a high run of tides which we can’t get out, we can’t move traps,” he says. “Before the tides dropped off, we only had 24 hours left to get them out of there.”
He says that Cape Sharp cuts off traps during every operation and while he has received compensation in the past, the company does not pay for lost catches.
“Now, it’s just a cost of business, ‘we’ll run right over those traps, we’ll just buy new traps,'” he says of the company’s thinking.
“I’m not being satisfied with (them) just paying for the traps this time,” he adds angrily. “I’m not accepting that, I shouldn’t have to accept it and I’m not going to.”
Taylor says the company shouldn’t be deploying turbines before lobster season ends on July 31. He also complained of losses and disruption when the first turbine was both deployed and retrieved during lobster season.
“I’m afraid they’re just trying to put me out of business,” Taylor says adding that his complaint to federal fisheries officials received no response.
Alasdair McLean of OpenHydro responds that the company tries to adjust its operations to take the fishing industry’s concerns into account and he feels it did a “pretty good job of that” in the last few days before this deployment.
He adds that moving deployment into August or September would be difficult.
“It’s important for us to get the turbine in the water,” he says. “Today was a beautiful day, so we had an opportunity here to do it and it’s difficult to give those up because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.”