North America's First Tidal Turbine Operational

Installation of Cape Sharp Tidal turbine.

By MarEx 2016-11-23 12:40:20

North America's first in-stream tidal turbine is now powering homes in Nova Scotia, Canada. Last week, Cape Sharp Tidal installed a two-megawatt, 1,000-tonne, in-stream tidal turbine at the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy, or FORCE, test site near Parrsboro. 

The demonstration open-center turbine, designed and manufactured by OpenHydro, uses a fraction of the estimated 7,000 megawatt potential of the Minas Passage to power the equivalent of about 500 Nova Scotia homes with energy from tides. A second turbine, planned for deployment in 2017, will make Cape Sharp Tidal one of the largest generating arrays in the world.

An in-stream tidal turbine works a lot like an underwater windmill. In-stream technology is designed to use the flow of the tides to turn an impellor, just like a windmill uses the flow of air to turn its blades. OpenHydro houses its impellors in a duct to accelerate the flow of water over the blades and improve the efficiency of the units. The turbines are designed to operate in the open flow of water. In the Minas Passage, they must operate in a range of speeds from zero to eight knots.

The completed four-megawatt demonstration project will displace the need to burn about 2,000 tons of coal, and eliminate 6,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking 1,000 cars off the road each year. 

Cape Sharp Tidal is a joint venture partnership between Emera and OpenHydro/DCNS.

FORCE has invested $30 million in onshore and offshore electrical infrastructure to allow demonstration turbines to connect to the power grid. In total, more than 125 organizations contributed to the creation of the FORCE facility and its research and monitoring programs. More than 90 percent of those are from Nova Scotia.

Cape Sharp Tidal has invested tens of millions of dollars to develop the local tidal industry and supply chain, and has met its commitment to spend 70 percent of first-phase project costs in Nova Scotia. More than 300 people have been employed on the project in areas such as fabrication, environmental monitoring, engineering, health and safety, marine services and more. Nova Scotia's tidal energy industry has the potential to create up to 22,000 jobs and contribute as much $1.7 billion to the economy.

Local fishermen have voiced concerns that the massive turbines could have a negative impact on fish. This year, FORCE has collected additional data on sound and on fish and marine mammals. This work will complement additional fish, lobster, marine mammal, seabird and noise studies at FORCE. Monitoring reports will be shared with regulators and the public and will contribute to a growing international body of research.

Monitoring at other tidal sites around the world has not observed a single collision between ocean life and turbines in a marine environment. Nova Scotia will now have the opportunity to test these findings in the Minas Passage. 

"This is a proud, and historic moment in Nova Scotia's global leadership in the responsible development of a new and renewable energy source," said Minister of Energy Michel Samson. "As we make the first in-stream tidal energy connection to the Canadian grid, we are ushering in a new era in marine renewable energy and taking an unprecedented step toward a lower carbon future."