Located just off Nova Scotia’s Brier Island, six turbines attached to a floating platform are generating enough electricity to power 150 homes.
Harnessing the power of the Bay of Fundy into reliable and renewable energy has been an idea around for decades, and this project is the first of its kind in Canada.
“The potential is vast. We’re talking in the Minas Passage alone, the potential for 250 megawatts. We’re talking as much power as two nuclear power stations, easily enough power to take Nova Scotia off coal if we wanted to develop it that way,” said Jason Hayman, CEO of Sustainable Marine.
Sustainable Marine currently has one 10 meter platform which generates power as the tide flows in and out – which allows the turbines to harness a large amount of power.
“We have an aggregate of the four largest rivers in the world flowing in and out of the Bay of Fundy four times a day,” said Kiley Sampson, operations manager of Sustainable Marine Canada.
All of the power can be destructive, but the floating platform is easy to access if repairs are needed. It’s designed to go with flow, although it is securely moored in place.
“The first one, the prototype survived Hurricane Dorian, so that was a good test of the mooring system, but one of the good things is we can bring the turbines up out of the water and let the platform find it’s happy place,” said Samson.
Since 2016, the platform and all of its testing prototypes have been equipped with high tech gadgets that look for any possible impact on marine life.
“Our environmental monitoring system includes everything from echosounders to sonar to tick counters and tag readers,” said Sampson. “We have actually seen zero harm to anything so far.”
If marine life were to approach the platform, they would be pushed away from the turbines as it creates movement similar to rushing water.
In order to reach its full potential, tidal energy would require investment and collaboration across the industry.
“The tide is never going anywhere and Nova Scotia is incredibly lucky to have this resource in its backyard because it’s only going to get easier and cheaper to harvest – it’s never going to get more expensive, unlike gas prices at the pump today,” he said Hayman.