Jan 2015: The Nova Scotia government announces it will stop issuing permits for locally produced renewable energy projects that rely on special rates, called community feed-in tariffs, while it reviews the COMFIT program. It says that so far, more than 90 COMFIT projects have been approved including for small-scale tidal projects in the Digby area. In August, Nova Scotia Power reveals that its cost of buying power from community producers has soared to $83.7 million from the original estimate of $6.75 million. The average cost of COMFIT energy is 14 cents per kwh compared with four to six cents for power generated using other sources. In December, the government announces that it officially ended its COMFIT program as of August 6, 2015.
March 2015: The Halifax Herald reports that three researchers are using marine radar to map waves and currents at the FORCE tidal test site near Parrsboro. The project will supplement already-completed seabed mapping to help determine the best sites for tidal turbines in the Minas Passage. The radar technology, on loan from Acadia University, measures water speeds 24-hours a day.
April 2015: The Herald runs an opinion piece by Phil Thompson, a retired energy policy analyst, who writes that thousands of tidal micro-projects would be cheaper and less risky than expensive, unproven turbine technologies in the Minas Passage. He advocates placing small electrical generators in ocean estuaries with narrow passages and high tidal speeds as well as in streams that flow to the sea from high lakes and ponds: “They [the generators] do not involve risky research and development with spectacular failures, as we have seen, and will see, in large-scale Fundy tidal turbines, because tested and proven technology already exists. They do not dramatically affect the environment in ways that large-scale projects can do,” he writes.
April 2015: The federal government announces it’s giving $6.3 million to the French-owned company OpenHydro to help with the development of tidal turbines for the Minas Passage. OpenHydro and Emera Inc. are partners in Cape Sharp Tidal which holds a berth at the FORCE tidal test site near Parrsboro. A government news release quotes James Ives, CEO of OpenHydro: “This project represents an important step in building a local tidal energy industry in Nova Scotia and a next step in the development of commercial tidal farms in the region.”
April 2015: The Nova Scotia government introduces legislation giving it more power to regulate marine renewable energy projects in the Bay of Fundy and the Bras d’Or Lakes. The government news release quotes Energy Minister Michel Samson: “Our tidal resources will make a significant contribution to the province, both as an economic generator with export potential and as a new power source. We have an opportunity to build on our leadership position as a centre of excellence in the tidal industry and this legislation sets out how we do that.”
April 2015: Warktimes publishes a piece predicting that affordable tidal power in the Bay of Fundy is a long way off.
April 2015: The Nova Scotia Government releases a report on the province’s electricity system. In a news release, it says a key finding is there needs to be “a focus on the environment and support for renewable energy resources and innovation when it makes financial sense, and with less impact to ratepayers.” [Emphasis added]
June 2015: FORCE releases its second environmental monitoring report for the years 2011 to 2013. It includes seabird and marine mammal surveys, fish and lobster tracking and noise measurements in the Minas Channel.
July 2015: Announcement of $115,000 in funding for the development of interactive computer software that can pull together a variety of data sets gathered from the Bay of Fundy environment. The Herald quotes FORCE general manager Tony Wright as saying that the software will take data about such things as known fish habitat and fishing grounds, currents and the geography of the ocean floor and combine it. The financial contributors include the federal government ($65,000); the Nova Scotia government ($20,000); the Offshore Energy Research Association ($20,000) and FORCE ($10,000).
July 2015: FORCE shows off two underwater monitoring platforms that cost $6.8 million to develop. They are part of the Fundy Advanced Sensor Technology (FAST) program to monitor ocean conditions, the stability of the seabed and the activity of marine life. The platforms were designed for the unique tidal conditions in the Bay of Fundy.
July 2015: The Herald reports on the lessons OpenHydro and Emera learned from the destruction of the first OpenHydro turbine deployed in 2009. The newspaper says that the design of the next turbines will remain the same, but they will be larger and heavier. For example, the first open-centre turbine was 10 metres in diameter and weighed a total of about 375 tonnes. The next turbines will be 16 metres in diameter with a total weight of 1,000 tonnes (300 tonnes each for the turbines and 700 tonnes for their bases.)
July 2015: The Herald quotes James Ives, CEO of OpenHydro and Chris Huskilson, CEO of Emera on their immediate and longer-term plans for turbine deployment in the Bay of Fundy. Their company Cape Sharp Tidal has announced $30 million in contracts for deployment of two, 2MW turbines. Most of the money went to Aecon Group Inc., the company that is building the turbines and a 1,150 tonne deployment barge designed by LengkeekVessel Engineering Inc. of Dartmouth. An additional $4.7 million was awarded to Hawboldt Industries of Chester to design and build three heavy-lift winches for the barge. Huskilson and Ives say Cape Sharp has plans to seek regulatory approval for turbines to produce 12 more megawatts at the FORCE site in 2017. The company would need to find an additional site in the Bay of Fundy for its later plans to produce 50MW in 2019 and up to 300MW in 2020.
July 2015: The governments of Nova Scotia and British Columbia announce they have signed an agreement to work together on marine renewable energy. The two provinces will collaborate on conducting research, developing technology and sharing information to ensure a “consistent regulatory framework across Canada.”
July 2015: The province announces it will contribute $500,000 for two international research projects that will cost a total of $1.43 million. It says the first project “will develop new sensor systems to measure turbulence, which allows developers to design and deploy technology that performs better in strong tides and currents.” The project will be conducted in waters off the United Kingdom as well as in the Bay of Fundy. The second project “will improve the tracking of fish and marine mammals in the Bay of Fundy.”
July 2015: Chris Huskilson of Emera tells the Herald editorial board that if the Cape Sharp Tidal turbines start generating electricity after their installation later this year, Nova Scotia’s power grid could carry 100 per cent renewable power in the not-too-distant future. He said that once Labrador’s Muskrat Falls hydro-electric project is connected to the Nova Scotia grid via the Maritime Link undersea cable, it could supply 70 per cent of the power, with the other 30 per cent coming from tidal energy. Huskilson said any excess power could be sold in the northeastern U.S.
August 2015: The Striped Bass Association issues a news release opposing the installation of large-scale tidal turbines in the Minas Passage. It says there is no evidence that the endangered striped bass and other species can or will avoid turbine blades. It says turbine installation should not go ahead until the risks to striped bass are better understood; it’s determined that turbines will not harm the species and regulations are in place requiring the removal of turbines if it’s determined they pose a high risk to conserving the fish. The news release can be downloaded at stripedbassassociation.ca. You can read the transcript of a student newspaper interview with Dr. Paul Stephenson, a mathematics professor at Acadia and president of the Striped Bass Association, by clicking here.
Sept. 2015: During an election campaign visit to Amherst, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau talks about renewable energy: “We need to invest in the projects this country needs, and the people who can build them. The green infrastructure opportunities in Cumberland-Colchester are a perfect example,” he said. “From tidal power to geothermal to wind, we need to start investing in our own future.”
Sept. 2015: The Herald reports that Emera’s Chris Huskilson is thinking about an undersea cable for exporting renewable electricity to the northeastern U.S. The newspaper added that if another undersea line were built, one possible route could be between southwestern Nova Scotia and the Boston area, according to a December 2009 consultant’s report for the Nova Scotia department of energy. That study, by SNC-Lavalin, said such a project would allow hydro, wind and tidal power to be exported from the region.
Sept. 2015: FORCE berth holder Atlantis Resources Ltd. of Singapore announces it has formed a partnership with the Irish-owned company DP Energy to develop a multi-turbine array at the FORCE site. Under the deal, DP Energy will acquire 50 per cent of Atlantis Operations Canada Ltd. The Herald reports that plans call for construction of AR1500 turbines in 2017. In Dec. 2014, Atlantis was given a guarantee of 53-cents per kwh (the rate for all FORCE leaseholders) for up to 4.5MW.
Sept. 2015: Emera Inc., the Halifax-based holding company that owns Nova Scotia Power, acquires TECO Energy Ltd. based in Tampa, Florida for $10.4 billion US. The Herald reports that Emera now holds a variety of investments in Atlantic Canada, New England, Florida, California, New Mexico and the Caribbean.
Sept. 2015: Cape Sharp Tidal holds an open house in Pictou where manager Jeremy Poste says OpenHydro turbines will be going into the water at the FORCE site by the end of the year. During a second open house in Parrsboro, site development manager Nick Fyffe says the town could be chosen as a turbine assembly and repair site as the company increases its operations in the Bay of Fundy.
Sept. 2015: The Cumberland Energy Authority holds a tidal power symposium in Parrsboro. Attendees hear about potential economic benefits for the town as the tidal industry expands. They also hear about the high costs to develop tidal power.
Oct. 2015: A news release from Black Rock Tidal Power says the company has secured $10.5 million in equity investment for its floating TRITON platform that will carry turbines built by its German parent company Schottel Hydro. It adds that the turbines, which will generate up to 2.5MW, will be installed at the FORCE site in the fall of 2016.
Oct. 2015: Cape Sharp Tidal announces that the Irving-owned company Atlantic Towing Ltd. of Dartmouth has been awarded a contract to help transport and install the two OpenHydro turbines at the FORCE site.
Nov. 2015: The Nova Scotia government releases its 25-year Electricity Plan. It states that “in the near term, the goal is to have between 16 and 22 MW of electricity from in-stream tidal in production or under active development by the early 2020s at the FORCE site near Parrsboro. This should maintain Nova Scotia’s position as one of three global leaders in tidal power development. The deployments have market support through a feed-in tariff (FIT), but the estimated impact on rates is less than 2 per cent over three to six years.” The plan also says that if the marine renewable sector reaches its production goal of 300MW within the next decade, there will be extra power for export especially after the Maritime Link subsea cable to Newfoundland starts carrying hydro-electricity from Muskrat Falls in late 2017 or early 2018.
Nov. 2015: Parrsboro’s Mayor Lois Smith reads a letter from Cape Sharp Tidal saying that it won’t be deploying its turbines until sometime in the spring because of delays in assembling them in Pictou.
Dec. 2015: Cape Sharp Tidal announces the successful installation of 300 metres of power and fibre-optic data cable at the FORCE site. Work teams also lifted the 16 megawatt cable installed by FORCE and linked it to Cape Sharp’s interconnection hub. That means that if Cape Sharp turbines start generating electricity, the power can be fed directly onto Nova Scotia’s grid.
Dec. 2015: The Nova Scotia government introduces changes to the Marine Renewable Electricity Act that it says will strengthen the requirement to collect and share environmental information to enhance public confidence in tidal projects. It also introduces legislation to implement its new electricity plan and announces it has ended its community feed-in tariff program designed to help small renewable energy developers. As for large-scale tidal energy, the government says its new legislation “enables the development of detailed regulations that will set program limits, rates, and data collection obligations for new and existing program participants.” Although it intends to maintain the 53-cent per kwh feed-in tariffs already granted to berth holders at the FORCE site, future developers will compete for licences so that Nova Scotia ratepayers are not unduly burdened.
Dec. 2015: The province awards the Irish-owned company, DP Energy, a fifth berth at the FORCE site where it plans to install three 1.5MW turbines possibly in 2017. DP Energy already holds a 50 per cent stake in another berth with the Canadian arm of Atlantis Resources Ltd. of Singapore. The other berth holders are Minas Energy of Hantsport, Black Rock Tidal Power (owned by its German parent company, Schottle Hydro) and Cape Sharp Tidal, a joint venture between Nova Scotia’s Emera Inc. and the French-owned OpenHydro.