Powering up

Rose Willigar
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Nova Scotia wades into tidal power waters

PARRSBORO - Nova Scotia is powering up for tidal energy generation as North America's first in-stream tidal technology centre was announced here Tuesday.

PARRSBORO - Nova Scotia is powering up for tidal energy generation as North America's first in-stream tidal technology centre was announced here Tuesday.

"These companies know what we know - the Bay of Fundy is one of the world's best sites for tidal development," said Premier Rodney MacDonald. "And today we are a step closer to proving it.

The premier said the multi-million dollar test centre could become a landmark in the effort to provide cleaner sources of energy.

The facility will be funded by a $4.7-million grant from the province's Ecotrust for Clean Air and Climate Change program, a $3-million zero-interest loan from EnCana Corporation's Environmental Innovation Fund, and significant contributions from each of the successful developers.

Nova Scotia Power is teaming up with Ireland's OpenHydro Turbine, while Minas Basin Pulp and Power is joining with UEK Hydrokinetic Turbine. The third company to test in the area is Clean Current of British Columbia.

The companies will spend between $10 million and $15 million each getting set up.

The province will also make $300,000 available for environmental and permitting work.

The demonstration plant, to be built by Mina Basin Pulp and Power Ltd. is set to hit the shores of the Bay of Fundy in 2009 or early 2010.

According to the proponents of the project the Bay of Fundy has the potential to generate 100,000 homes with power, which is a quarter of the homes in Nova Scotia.

"The Bay of Fundy is the best site for in-stream tidal energy, this is a significant opportunity for Nova Scotia and industry and once the Strategic Environmental Assessment is completed it is very likely for the facility to be built off the shores of Cumberland County," said Energy Minister Richard Hurlburt.

The minister added that there is still much work to be done including understanding what the machines will do to the environment.

In 2006, Nova Scotia Power began its search for partners for a demonstration tidal project. Open Hydro, a Dublin based company was the match with its rotor design that has been tested up to the 250-kilowatt size.

Open Hydro and Nova Scotia Power propose to test a 1MW version of the turbine for about a two years beginning in 2009. The 12-metre turbine is compact and is considered a minimum commercial scale.

Also in 2007 Nova Scotia Power received funding for this project from another partner, Sustainable Development Technology Canada in addition to working with the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

Once a test facility is in place each company will have the opportunity to attach their specific turbine model that will feed back to the land-based facility.

"Three businesses once testing is complete will know the answer as to whether in-stream tidal power will work in the Minus Passage. Three companies will know the answer to this question to be yes," Hurlburt said.

Nova Scotia, heavily dependent on coal, wants 20 per cent of its electricity supply to come from renewable resources by 2013.

With files from The Canadian Press

Organizations: Nova Scotia Power, Ecotrust, Clean Air EnCana Corporation Environmental Innovation Fund Mina Basin Pulp and Power Sustainable Development Technology Canada Bedford Institute of Oceanography

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Bay of Fundy, North America Ireland British Columbia Cumberland County

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