By Chantal Hunter
Atlantis / Lockheed Martin / Irving Shipbuilding device (scheduled 2012)
Every day, the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun moves about 100 billion tonnes of seawater in and out of the Bay of Fundy on Canada’s East Coast, creating one of the highest tidal ranges in the world. Underwater turbines harness the massive kinetic force of these tides to create tidal energy (similar to the way windmills capture energy from wind), which can then be converted into electricity.
A Partnership with FORCE
In this system, the role of the turbines is crucial. That’s why Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) CanmetENERGY is working with the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) to assess the performance and also — given the physical extremes — the resilience of the tidal turbines in the Bay of Fundy.
This power generation system is unique — it’s the first Canadian deployment of commercial-scale tidal turbines. And the scale of the system is unprecedented: it will give FORCE the largest offshore transmission capacity of any in-stream tidal energy site in the world. The practical local benefits are substantial. The FORCE project has the potential to power over 20,000 homes.
An Underwater Laboratory
Alstom / Clean Current device (scheduled 2012)
The CanmetENERGY team and FORCE will construct and operate a facility in the Minas Passage of the Bay of Fundy. Using this facility, the project will investigate the ability of four submarine cables to deliver electricity to Nova Scotia’s power system, and also field test the functions of the equipment connected to the underwater powerhouse. The resulting data will be analyzed and used to enhance future research on tidal energy and to help shape the development of energy regulations.
This research is expected to provide several major benefits, such as advancing tidal energy in Canada, providing economic impacts in the Atlantic region and establishing Canada as a world leader in marine renewable energy.
The project has three initial components. A subsea cable is to be installed in the summer of 2011, a Research and Visitors Centre is expected to open in June 2011, and two turbines are expected to be installed in the summer of 2012.
An Emerging and Reliable Energy Source
Minas Basin Pulp and Power/Marine Current Turbine Device (scheduled 2012)
Since tidal currents are reliable and predictable, they offer a potentially great source of power to drive turbines and generate electricity. And Canada — with its extensive access to three oceans — offers the ideal environment for tapping the potential of marine renewable energy. To date, some 190 tidal power sites have been identified off Canada’s coasts, with a total estimated capacity of 42,000 MW — more than 63 percent of the country’s annual total consumption.
The ocean renewable energy sector that will harness this immense resource is relatively new and is still in a state of early development. But while young, it is rapidly growing with strong government support. In the case of FORCE, the Government of Canada has committed up to $20 million from its Clean Energy Fund. This investment and others in clean energy technologies are a key part of Canada’s balanced approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the effects of climate change, and this funding will also create numerous opportunities for growth and further investment in Canada’s ocean renewable industry. The resulting activity and industry expansion serve the government’s overall commitment to reducing Canada’s total GHG emissions by 20 percent below 2006 levels by the year 2020, as well as the commitment to meeting 90 percent of Canada’s electricity needs through non-emitting sources by the year 2020.
A Clean Energy Fund Project
NRCan through the Clean Energy Fund program, will monitor the project through the five-year funding cycle until March 31, 2014, and for five years following that date. In addition, FORCE is developing an environmental follow-up program that will be monitored by RNCan over the course of the project.
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