Fundy tidal power test gets boost today

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A federal green foundation is expected to make a major announcement today about Nova Scotia Power’s effort to generate electricity from the Bay of Fundy tides

Sustainable Technology Development Canada’s vice-president of industry will be on hand at the Cherubini Metal Works facility in Dartmouth where Nova Scotia Power and its Irish partner, OpenHydro, will unveil their test turbine.

Two years ago, the utility applied for $4 million in funding and asked the foundation to help cover the costs of developing and evaluating the turbine. A turbine is expected to cost between $10 million and $15 million.

In a news release Tuesday, the foundation states it has already invested $4.65 million in the demonstration tidal project and today “will mark an important chapter.”

NSP and OpenHydro will unveil their tidal technology to the public before the underwater turbine is launched in the Bay of Fundy next month. The turbine could produce one megawatt of electricity, enough to power 300 households.

Last week, the Environment Department announced it had given the green light for three tidal turbines to be tested with the possibility that one day they may harness Fundy’s immense tidal power.

Natural Resources Canada has estimated there is enough tidal energy to power most of the country’s homes, and the lion’s share is in the Bay of Fundy.

NSP and OpenHydro are one of three groups of companies involved in the pilot project announced by the provincial government in 2007 to test tidal power technology in the bay. The test turbines are preparing to hit the water, with the first scheduled to be launched next month.

The other two developers — Clean Current Power Systems Inc., of British Columbia, and Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co., of Hantsport — are planning to install their underwater devices in the spring after a cable is in place to carry the electricity to shore.

Minas Basin also won the contract to build a tidal energy test facility worth $12 million to $14 million. It is a large part of the project that includes designing and operating a structure to receive electricity from the turbines and process data.

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