Jan. 2013: Clean Current Power Systems of Vancouver says it won’t be involved in putting a turbine in the Bay of Fundy this year. It has terminated its partnership with the French company Alstom. The president of Clean Current says his company is continuing to develop smaller turbines, but may return to the Minas Passage test site at a later date. Alstom still has a spot at the test site, but can’t say when it may put a turbine in the water. FORCE spokesman Matt Lumley says he doesn’t expect a turbine in the water this year, but FORCE will continue with its plans to lay the $11 million underwater cable that is needed to connect turbines to the grid.
Feb. 2013: The federal government is investing $5 million to help Atlantis Resources Corp. of the UK develop turbines able to withstand the forceful tides in the Bay of Fundy. Atlantis and its partners, Lockheed Martin Canada and Irving Shipbuilding, hope to install a 1MW turbine in the Minas Passage sometime in 2015.
Feb. 2013: The French company Alstom announces it is postponing plans to install a tidal turbine in the Minas Passage. Michelle Stein, a spokeswoman for the company, says it wants to see the results of an 18-month trial of its new 1MW turbine in the Orkney Islands, Scotland. It means that a tidal turbine likely won’t go into the FORCE test site until 2015. FORCE spokesman Matt Lumley says turbine fabrication and deployment “require a thoughtful, deliberate approach” especially when it comes to “working with hurricane-force tidal currents.”
March 2013: Tidal industry pioneer, Peter Fraenkel, tells the Halifax Chronicle-Herald that tidal power development is at the same stage wind power was 40 years ago. Fraenkel, co-founder of Marine Current Turbines Inc., (MCT) says he thinks tidal turbines will become commercially viable in the same way wind turbines have, but it will take time and developments will have to go step-by-step. Last year, MCT was bought by the German conglomerate Siemens AG so Fraenkel is no longer with the company which still is active in the Minas Passage test site with its partner Minas Basin Pulp and Power of Hantsport. Fraenkel helped MCT develop a 1.2MW SeaGen turbine, the world’s first commercially operating in-stream turbine. It’s been producing tidal power in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Narrows since 2008. Fraenkel says that there are tough technical challenges in the Minas Passage. “But on the other side of the coin, it’s an incredibly good site — the speed of the water, the size of the site — it’s huge.”
Aug. 2013: An American consultant tells the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board that the size of tidal projects in the Bay of Fundy could be limited to minimize their impact on electricity rates. The NS Energy Dept. says it does not want rates to rise by more than two per cent because of tidal power development. The consulting firm, Synapse Energy Economics Inc., says some developers say their projects must have 10MW of generating capacity to be viable, but Synapse says 4MW is more realistic to limit the impact on rates.
Aug. 2013: Ocean Renewable Power Co. of Portland, Maine says the first year of operation for its in-stream tidal turbine in Cobscook Bay has been a success. The small TidGen turbine generates 150-kilowatts. A company spokesman says the turbine has been removed from the water for an inspection and maintenance. It will be re-deployed next year. Ocean Renewable has approval to install turbines in three sites off Maine and says it plans to have 15 to 20 turbines in place by the end of 2016. The company has a strategic partnership with Nova Scotia’s Fundy Tidal Inc. which has five approved energy project sites in Digby and Cape Breton.
Oct. 2013: The nonprofit Offshore Energy Research Association announces that it’s commissioning a study on the economic value of developing a tidal power industry in Nova Scotia. “There is massive potential for Nova Scotians in all sectors to develop the tidal energy industry,” executive director Stephen Dempsey says in a news release.
Nov. 2013: Fundy Tidal Inc. of Digby says it hopes to have its first test turbine operating by 2015 in Grand Passage on Digby Neck. “We’re phasing in machines one step at a time and moving toward commercial energy production by 2017,” Dana Morin, the company’s director of business development tells the Herald. Fundy Tidal is a Community Economic Development Corporation.
Nov. 2013: Fundy Tidal Inc. and Clean Current Power Systems Inc. of Vancouver enter into an agreement to test and demonstrate a Clean Current tidal turbine. Clean Current was incorporated in 2001 to develop turbines for a worldwide market.
Nov. 2013: Fundy Tidal Inc. joins with the Municipality of the District of Digby and the Town of Digby to develop the Digby Community Energy Trust. The Herald reports that the trust will co-ordinate resources and cover the operating costs for the Digby Community Energy Centre. The aim is to co-ordinate resources to support research, development and commercialization of tidal power systems and services in the region.
Nov. 2013: George Baker of Kentville, NS dies at age 95. The president of Kentville Publishing Co., which owned community newspapers in Kentville and Windsor for 30 years, began calling for harnessing the Minas Basin tides in 1949. Thirty-five years later part of his dream came true with the opening of the first tidal power site in North America at the Annapolis Royal Generating Station. Baker served for nearly 20 years on the board of Tidal Power Corp., which operated the station.
Nov. 2013: The NS Utility and Review Board approves a series of rates, or feed-in tariffs, for the companies that plan to test tidal turbines at the FORCE site in the Minas Passage. The rates average 47.5 cents per kilowatt hour between three and four times the nearly 14 cents per kilowatt hour that residential customers pay for home electricity. In all, there will be three tariffs, one for development of a project and two for testing phases. Developers must choose either the developmental tariff or the test tariffs and cannot switch once the choice is made.
(A) Developmental Tariff (lasts 15 years for a single turbine or an array of turbines) — $530 per megawatt hour for the first 16,560 megawatt hours produced in a year and $420 per megawatt hour for any electricity above 16,560 megawatt hours produced per year.
(B) Phase 1 Test Rate (maximum 3 years for a single turbine) — $575 per megawatt hour for the first 3,330 megawatt hours produced per year and $455 per megawatt hour for electricity produced above 3,330 megawatt hours.
(C) Phase 2 Test Rate (lasts 15 years for a single turbine or an array) — $495 per megawatt hour for the first 16,560 megawatt hours per year and $375 per megawatt hour for electricity produced above 16,560 megawatt hours.
The UARB says it will consider reviewing the rates depending on the level of activity at the FORCE test site. The board could review the rates after three years if there is no significant activity or a berth site is vacated to determine if the rates are too low. Or, if there is significant testing activity, it could review the rates after five years to determine if they are too high.
The Herald quotes Michelle Stein who speaks for the French company Alstom as saying the rates are encouraging for the industry and tidal developers, especially since there are rates for tidal arrays.
Nov. 2013: FORCE plans to deploy a new measuring device called the Vectron described in a news release as “the world’s first instrument capable of providing high-resolution, real-time measurements of turbulent water flow at turbine hub height.” The information will help developers design tidal turbines for the turbulent waters of the Minas Passsage.
Nov. 2013: Halcyon Tidal Power of Maine proposes a $3 billion tidal facility across Scots Bay. The company seeks an exclusive marine lease to build a 1,100-megawatt tidal barrage, or dam-like structure, stretching 10 km from Cape Split to Baxters Harbour. Halycon developed its technology in collaboration with the French company, Alstom Power. Local residents organize an online petition calling on the province to reject the marine lease on the grounds that a barrage across Scots Bay would detract from the area’s natural beauty, disrupt the sensitive ecosystem and threaten marine life.
Dec. 2013: Bill Phillips, a 91-year-old electrical engineer who was a member of the team behind the Annapolis tidal station, criticizes plans to install test turbines in the Minas Passage. The Halifax Chronicle-Herald reports that Phillips sees a basic flaw in exposing test turbines of questionable strength to the full force of the tides. Phillips says engineers were on the right track with the Annapolis station that locks in water at high tide and generates electricity by releasing it. He adds that the proposal from Halcyon Tidal Power of Maine to construct a tidal barrage at Scots Bay makes more sense from an engineering point of view than small tidal demonstration projects in the Minas Passage.
Dec. 2013: International Telecom of Halifax successfully installs a 3.2 km data cable in the Minas Passage in spite of rough, mid-December weather conditions. The data cable will be connected to a recoverable underwater research platform that will monitor a wide range of conditions at the test site. It will allow for continuous, real-time data transmission to shore when the $10 million Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology Platform is completed and deployed.