Jan. 2009: Nova Scotia announces that tidal power is part of its plan to have at least 25 per cent of the province’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020.
Jan. 2009: Minas Basin Pulp and Power confirms that it has selected the Black Rock site west of Parrsboro where the competing consortia will install turbines at depths of up to 45 metres. The company says it has scrapped plans to test underwater electric kite technology and will now work with a new partner, Marine Current Turbines (MCT) of Bristol, England to install a SeaGen underwater turbine by 2010. It says the cost to build and install the prototype would be between $15 million and $18 million.
Feb. 2009: The Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) is registered as a not-for-profit corporation to operate a tidal test site at Black Rock in the Minas Passage. It will also enable public and private research into the extraction of tidal energy and its effects and play a role in keeping the public informed about its ongoing activities. Its Board of Directors is a mix of people from private industry, Acadia University and the Nova Scotia Department of Energy.
May 2009: The Chronicle-Herald reports that scientific data about potential environmental effects of the tidal project is being submitted to federal and provincial regulatory authorities triggering a 90-day environmental impact assessment. Tidal energy project consultant Doug Keefe is quoted as saying the demonstration project will be a success even if it shows electricity can’t be generated from the Bay of Fundy. “We need to know whether we can do this right or not do it at all.”
Sept. 2009: Herald editorial warns that while there could be immense benefits in “coaxing megawatts” from the powerful Fundy tides, its “massive currents, along with swirling sediments and, at certain times, huge ice chunks, will provide a severe test to the turbine technology.”
Oct. 2009: The Herald reports that eight research projects will soon be launched to study environmental effects of Fundy turbines. The researchers are receiving $1.1 million from the province. One study, using underwater robots, will look at whether fish can detect and avoid tidal turbines. Acadia University biology professor Michael Dadswell warns that big turbines would do “immense damage” to the fishery and whale-watching businesses as well as harming marine mammals such as seals and whales.
Oct. 2009: Nova Scotia Power and OpenHydro test their one-megawatt turbine in Bedford Basin. The $10 million, 40-tonne turbine and its 400-tonne subsea base are almost as high as a six-storey building. Sustainable Development Technology Canada, a federal-government funded green energy foundation contributed $4.6 million of that cost.
Oct. 2009: The province appoints two new committees to oversee the tidal demonstration project. An environmental committee will be guided by Anna Redden, director of the Acadia University Centre for Estuarine Research and Donald Gordon, a retired scientist from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans. A community liaison committee will be co-chaired by Parrsboro town councillor Lois Smith and Joe Kozak of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy.
Nov. 2009: Nova Scotia Power and Irish partner OpenHydro install North America’s first underwater tidal turbine in the Minas Passage. Plans call for the turbine to operate and collect data about the strong currents, but underwater power cables won’t be connected to it until next year. It transmits its data using an acoustic modem system.
Dec. 2009: OpenHydro says its turbine in the Minas Passage is working the way it was designed to. Nick Murphy, the company’s commercial manager tells a conference in Halifax, “It was designed to withstand the currents and that’s the nice thing about tidal energy, the forces are very predictable.” The Herald quotes Nova Scotia Power executive Rick Janega as saying that if the testing continues to go well, NSP could put 200 to 300 turbines in the Bay of Fundy, enough to generate 15 per cent of Nova Scotia’s electricity.